Debate has intensified in the Liberian Senate following a bill from the House of Representatives, seeking to outlaw same sex couples adopting children from Liberia.
Despite international pressure for African governments to legalize same sex marriage in exchange for aids, gay marriage and lesbianism are unlawful here.
A proposed legislation to amend chapter 4, sub-chapter C part 1&2 of the Domestic Relation Law seeks to forbid same sex couples (Gay or Lesbian) from adopting Liberian children.
The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in 2011, is in compliance with Section 4.73 of the Hague Convention on the adoption of the child.
It is expected to meet the concurrence of the Liberian Senate, but several Senators have expressed serious reservations regarding the document.
The Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary, Senator Joseph N. Nagbe of Sinoe County told plenary Tuesday at its 37th day sitting of the 2nd Session that the bill should be passed because it seeks to address inter-country adoption.
According to Senator Nagbe, when enacted, the bill will also enable the court system in Liberia to examine whether the would-be adopted parents are mentally sound, morally upright and financially potent to take full responsibility of the child/children.
He said the amended bill also stressed the need for a child seeking adoption to be at least 12 months old, and said parents should be 25 or at least 18 years older than the child to be adopted.
Nagbe indicated that it was not a strange legal practice to amend provisions of the law as a means of addressing issues that affect the lives of citizens. He told plenary that it was prudent for parents of adopted child/children to consult a lawyer before allowing the adoption process.
On the contrary, several Senators, including Pro-Tempt Gbehzongar Findley, Geraldine Doe- Sheriff, Isaac Nyenabo, Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence, George Tengbeh, Sumo Kupee and Theodore Momoh, among others said more clarity was needed before the passage of the bill.
Senator Clarice Alpha Jah of Margibi County, providing information regarding the essence of adoption, noted that some parents abandoned their child/children in terms of support. These children, she added, live in abject poverty so there was a need for their lives to be improved.
The Senator said when such child/children are adopted, the adopted parent(s) will have legitimate claim to change their names and phone numbers at will because the child/children will no longer bear the name of the biological parents.
She argued that the same sex couples segment is not needed in the bill because the practice is illegal in Liberia. Members of the Senate however agreed in plenary that the bill should be sent to committee room once more for one week to allow ample time to scrutinize the intricacy of the issue.