News24

Liberia's senate to consider anti-gay bill

2012-02-24 07:50

Monrovia - Liberia's senate will consider a bill to strengthen the nation's existing anti-gay laws, a senator said, as another West African nation, Cameroon, announced the arrest of 10 women suspected of being lesbians.

Cameroon Radio Television reported on Thursday that the 10 women are being detained in Ambam, about 300km south of the capital of Yaounde, until they go to trial.

Consensual same-gender sex is considered criminal in Cameroon and punishable by a jail sentence from six months to five years and a fine. Gay rights defender and founder of the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals, Alice Nkom, says detainees in Cameroon are frequently tortured in police stations to force them confess.

Meanwhile, Liberia's former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill last week that would prohibit same-sex marriage and make homosexuality a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"We are only strengthening the existing law," she said. "Some media are reporting that I said anyone found guilty of involvement in same sex should face the death penalty, I did not say so, I am calling for a law that will make it a first degree felony," she told the Associated Press.

The current law considers gay relationships a first-degree misdemeanour, which carries a punishment of up to a year in prison.

"We are looking at it critically" and will put it before the entire Senate "during our next sitting on Thursday", Senator Joseph Nagbe, chairperson of the Judicial Committee, told The Associated Press.

Wave of intense homophobia

If passed by the Senate, the strengthened bill would then go the House and then the president.

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said she will not sign any such bill into law.

"Liberia is a member of the global community and therefore cannot kick against the rights of others to do what they choose to do," said Archie Ponpon, chairperson of the newly-formed gay rights advocacy group the Movement for the Defence of Gays and Lesbians in Liberia.

Ponpon and his family have already faced hostility because of his fight for gay rights in Liberia. Weeks ago, his mother's house was set on fire and he and another advocate, Abraham Kamara, were mobbed by angry students while campaigning at the University of Liberia.

"We will not relent," he said. "People will come to the realisation that in this day and age, individuals should be free to practice what they wish."

A wave of intense homophobia has been washing across Africa in the past few years, where homosexuality is already illegal in many countries.

"It's getting worse," Cameroon gay rights defender Nkom said of homophobia.

"People accused of homosexuality are put in jail straight away" she told reporters in November after three men were each sentenced to five years in prison for homosexual acts.

Death threats

International rights groups, including Amnesty International, have frequently lambasted Cameroon's homosexuality law, demanding its abolition.

But the authorities have turned a deaf ear to such requests. Last year, the government demanded and successfully obtained the withdrawal of grants allocated the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals by the European Union.

Nkom said she has received numerous death threats from fellow lawyers and Cameroonians, as well as a threat from the Ministry of Justice to dismiss her from the country's roster of legal practitioners.

Contempt for homosexuals has led to anti-gay legal measures elsewhere in Africa. Last year, Nigeria's Senate voted in favor of a bill that would criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection. Two years ago, Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has yet to become law.

In January, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said African nations should stop treating gays as "second-class citizens, or even criminals". Ban told African leaders that discrimination based on sexual orientation "had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for far too long".

Comments
  • Jarryd - 2012-02-24 08:34

    i'm no gay rights activist, but criminalisation is a bit extreme... I think it was David Cameron who said that aid/investment needs to be curtained in these african countries that fail to uphold such basic human rights. I tend to agree.

  • LynneOeschger - 2012-02-24 08:46

    This smells to me of the old witch trials. What is wrong with these people? History people, learn from it.

  • Colin - 2012-02-24 09:07

    You African people are so backwards. You are an embarresment to all of mankind.

      mbossenger - 2012-02-24 09:29

      Well, the issue of gay marriage is still being debated in the USA as well. Unbelievable, but true.

      Garth - 2012-02-24 10:13

      You too, apparently, are an African. Your spelling is an `embarrassment' to all English-speaking, white Africans!

  • Wayne - 2012-02-24 09:08

    10 Women detained. I wonder which part of Lesbia they were from.

      Garth - 2012-02-24 10:14

      The island of Lesbos Wayne, the island . . .

  • Ben Nel - 2012-02-24 09:32

    "Beginning in 1820, the region was colonized by freed American slaves with the help of the American Colonization Society, a private organization that believed ex-slaves would have greater freedom and equality in Africa." .....Some irony

  • Heinrich - 2012-02-24 09:44

    What I have read in several articles before this and comments made by these MP members, is not that homosexuality is wrong per say but that is white (European) and definitely not African. Pity their feelings are not mutual when it comes to western medication, western clothing, western cars and western homes.

      sarel.pretorius2 - 2012-02-24 10:08

      This behaviour comes from the blacks and is called "matanjola" it is a acceptable norm in old mine shafts where I caucht them many times in the act! This is normal for a half human-half animal! It is just a pity that other nations followed the exsample and become like them!

  • sarel.pretorius2 - 2012-02-24 09:47

    Let these people of abnormal behaviour go there way! Leave them alone! What they do not realize,whether believer or not, the Almighty God destroyed citie like Sodom (city of sodomites) and Gomorra! Let them recieve the punishment of God! This behaviour is "ugly" in the eyes of God! Let God handle them not us!They will need a good lawyer to defend them the day they appear before God. And those of you critics who does not believe in God,wait and find out after your deaths! Sarel Pretorius

  • sarel.pretorius2 - 2012-02-24 09:55

    What is more embarresing than getting up in one's ass for his own pleasure! How dirty this is? Cogratulations king aids!

      Garth - 2012-02-24 10:16

      Your abuse of the English language is probably more embarrassing . . .

      Ben Nel - 2012-02-24 10:24

      Sarel, dit klink of jy baie kwaad is omdat jou ossewa se disselboom gebreek het. Ontspan kêrel.

      mbossenger - 2012-02-24 11:32

      Sarel Pretorius - proudly marching into the 13th century.

  • sarel.pretorius2 - 2012-02-24 10:22

    Good to see my comment hurts where it should! Your comment on language are more important than the end results of this dirty acts between men and women! Enjoy your way of living as lond as possible the end results will be a lfe of eternity!

      Heiku - 2012-02-24 11:19

      Men being gay with woman LOL

      Matt Jordan - 2012-02-24 11:22

      Hey Sarel!human rights are not selective,and apply to ALL individuals,despite facts of disagreement. Homophobia are called HATE CRIMES for a reason.Chances are,when you're hating others like this,you're more than likely just hating yourself.These "laws" are just control and hate perpetuated on a mass scale, propelled by a few disgusting individuals in influential positions.Trust me my friend,they will get what's coming there way because of there spitefulness,in this life or the next.

  • sarel.pretorius2 - 2012-02-24 10:23

    Now you have bad spelling also done on purpose to amuse a small mind!

  • colin.langley - 2012-02-24 10:26

    funny how christians only pick and choose from the bible hey Sarel, you bigoted idiot...if we all followed the bible to the letter there would be nobody left on earth...what a Poepall

      Ben Nel - 2012-02-24 10:30

      It sounds as if Sarel is yearning for some man on man action.

      Heiku - 2012-02-24 11:19

      word

      Schmee - 2012-02-24 13:26

      He’s probably gone to squat on a cactus. He prefers it that way.

  • Leon Olivier - 2012-02-24 10:33

    Sarel is protesting way to much....

      colin.langley - 2012-02-24 10:36

      more like prostating to much

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