19 July 2012

Liberia: Fahnbulleh Takes On Ellen

Photo: IRIN
A gay couple.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's rhetorical posture on gay issue or same sex is receiving criticisms here with calls for her to take a clear position on the issue.

Since western countries announced same sex as a precondition to providing aid to Africa, few countries in the sub-region, particularly Nigeria and Ghana have out-rightly denounced the policy. Public reactions to a gay rights activism here have been unkindly with threats against a self-style lead campaigner.

President Sirleaf had earlier been quoted as saying she has no plan to sign same sex marriage into law, a declaration which The Guardian newspaper of Britain termed as an expression of her opposition to gay and lesbian marriage in Liberia.

Immediately following The Guardian's report, the Executive Mansion issued a statement in which it noted, "As in any democracy, the President will not impose her personal beliefs on the people, but she reserves her constitutional prerogatives to stop any type of extremist legislation intended to marginalize or give a particular group of citizens a status because of their sexual orientation or practices."

The statement further said, there are no anti-gay or anti-lesbian laws anywhere in Liberia, saying "We therefore do not have laws that are pro- or anti-gay. Some social activists want to introduce laws that make 'gay marriage legal' and some legislators want to bring in new laws that criminalize what they consider as 'gay or lesbian sexual practices.' The President is on record as saying that she will veto any such legislation."

The Mansion's statement in effect, means the President is neither for nor against same sex marriage in the country.

But Montserrado County Electoral District #4 Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh, a staunch member of the governing Unity Party, thinks the President should be very definite on gay's rights here. He said it is unfortunate for the Chief Executive to be indecisive when in fact, it has become a national issue.

Speaking to reporters on the grounds of the Capitol Building Tuesday, Rep. Fahnbulleh said delay tactics introduced by President Sirleaf create room for speculations among the citizens, including those keenly following national issues in the country.

He said since the introduction of speculation about gay rights in the country, Madam Sirleaf, who is a mother, has failed to publicly declared whether she's in favor of the practice or not.

"For me, if you were to ask me about my position on gay rights, I will go straight to the point. I am totally against the practice. Let her do the right thing by telling the public about her position on the subject matter, and she should stop the delay tactics", Fahnbulleh urged.

The UP lawmaker is the second member of the House of Representatives to take on the President. Maryland County Representative Bhofal Chambers had earlier called on the President to tell the Liberian people clearly where she stands on the matter.

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