The Informer (Monrovia)

9 April 2012

Liberia: Govt Backs Gays

Photo: IRIN
A gay couple.

The Liberian Government is seems somewhat to be breaking away from the country's cherished cultural and traditional values when it last week gave a what many have described as a "resounding backing" to gay rights and practices in the country.

Thousands of Liberians have bitterly resisted any attempt of promoting gay rights in the country since the contentious issues rose to the lamp light early this year, after the US Government announced it would cut off aid to African countries that refuse to uphold gay rights.

Two separate anti-gay laws have been submitted to the National, gay advocates flogged and threatened, showing the degree of bitterness Liberians have against same-sex marriage or affairs.

As the debate continues, a group calling itself the Movement Against Gay's in Liberia, or MOGAL, last week vowed to haunt down gays and their supporters, but the Liberian Government has forbidden the idea, signaling that it now back same-sex affairs in the country.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the day following MOGAL's threat, the Liberian Government said its "attention...is seriously drawn to an anonymous press release from a purported group calling itself 'Movement Against Gay's in Liberia (MOGAL);' in which the group threatens to "go after" individuals it claims are either gays, lesbians or gays supporters."

The statement quotes the Government as saying while it "supports the rights of any of its citizens to hold dear their traditional values, it will neither countenance nor condone any form of intolerance whose objective is to stifle the exercise of individual freedoms and the advance of civil liberties."

"Accordingly, the relevant security agencies have been instructed to seriously investigate these threats and to swiftly arrest and prosecute anyone who threatens 'to go after' gays and their supporters," the Information Ministry's statement warned.

Since the controversial gay issue came up, the Liberian Government has yet to make any official comment in it. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said she will not sign any gay law that comes before her.

The anti-gay group (MOGAL) last weekend distributed fliers with a black list of people who support gay rights, with one member of the group vowing to "get to them one by one."

Though no member of MOGAL affixed their signature on the fliers, Mr. Moses Tarplah, an associate to the group, warned their threats should be taken seriously." He emphasized: "We will get to them one by one."

He claimed that gays "want to spoil our country. Those involved in promoting gay rights should not be given space to get a gulp of air." He further threatened that gays and their supporters could be subjected to "dangerous punishments" including "flogging and death."

Except for the death aspect, but Chief gay right advocate Archie Ponpon has been subjected to humiliation including flogging, threats and the burning of his mother's house. He is said to be in hiding after an angry crowd nearly strangle him to death after he appeared on a radio talk show at Truth FM. It took the intervention of the Liberian National Police to rescue him.

Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, told the Associated Press the latest hit list should put pressure on President Ellen Johnson of Liberia to take a stance in support of gay rights. Simply refusing to sign the new anti-gay laws was insufficient, the director said.

The AP in a quote from Mr. David Bruce Wharton, deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy in the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, in a phone interview disclosed from Washington that the department was wary of being seen as "seeking to impose Western values on more conservative African societies."

The anti-gay group warned in their fliers distributed in Monrovia that they will commence taking action very soon, sounding a caveat, "let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon. We urge them to also begin saying their Lord's prayers."

The latest hyper height in the rhetoric of gay rights in Liberia is fueled by the Obama administration new foreign aid policy centered on decriminalizing gay rights in Africa and threatened to cut off aid if African countries and others countries fail to recognize gay rights.

Since that policy Liberians have pushed back what they see as the United States and international community effort to force gay rights in Liberia through President Sirleaf government since she is worshiped abroad and using her country could serve as symbolic platform for gay rights to take hold in Africa, being the first democratically elected President of an African nation and her Nobel Peace Prize she won last October.

The Liberian leader - reportedly being under tremendous pressure from the United States government and international community including many non-state actors who have pumped millions into the country to influence lawmakers to pass legislation to legalize gay rights being the darling of the west and the international community--finds herself between the rock and hard place.

The Liberian President finds herself caught flat-footed, where the rubber meets the road; how does President Sirleaf satisfy her international friends who made her who she is and while at the same time standing up for the values she believes in and her African womanhood, compounded by the disproportionate wave of backlash and push-back she will encounter, if all things considered, she decides to give a payback to her international friends at the expense of the wishes of the country.

President Sirleaf is in a very precarious situation where the international community cannot do anything no matter what support, pressure given her or threats impose on her and the country. It may sound easy for the international community to use their leverage to pressure the Liberian leader to plant gay rights in her country but the reality is what the West sees as a cake walk, for Africa, Liberia, and African womanhood, it is a forbidding an African woman will ever do to recognize gay rights.

If President Sirleaf, an African woman bent on satisfying her international friends, compromise her African and African womanhood, religious, and social values and subsequently recognizes gay rights, it will be tantamount to what African culture considers "abomination", an act which carries the punishment of being banished from the society for life.

The Liberian leader will lost her respect, African womanhood, and will not be able to deal with the disgrace and massive coordinated backlash that will collectively come from the religious, traditional, social, and political spectrum of the country, something which could force her to resign as President or be impeached.

"The stakes are high and as such the West and President Sirleaf's friends need to back off from this gay rights fight; it is a battle which does not worth fighting because from the onset, it is defeated and in the next hundred years, gay rights will never be accepted in Liberia; Liberians would rather choose to die with starvation or obliterated from the face of the Earth than to accept gay rights in their country," a statement posted on thenewdispensation.wordpress.com noted.

The statement noted that "Gay rights can never be accepted in Liberia because that West African nation is very religious and grounded in strong African values which views man sleeping with-man and woman-sleeping with-woman as a curse which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, a sin which God detest and from the African tradition, it is an 'abomination" their ancestors won't take likely and would bring curse on the society."

"There are pressing issues in Liberia which deserve serious attention, it is only unfortunate that President Obama who is an African will use aid and the power of his country to pierce the soul of African culture and values, and pressure African leaders and African womanhood to commit abomination," one Liberian said.

"He should had consulted with Africans before coming up with his controversial aid policy, if the United States President does not back off from his gay importation to Africa, he will be alienated by his own African brothers and sisters," an analyst speaking on anonymity said.

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