Liberia- A name literally meaning “country of the free”. But, nothing can be more contrary, given the recent developments which raised many an eyebrow among the more humanely inclined citizens of this nation.
Former First Lady of the country, Jewel Howard Taylor, wife of Charles Taylor and now a Senator, has introduced a bill “to prohibit marriages between same-sexes in Liberia” and make homosexuality a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In a letter to the parliamentarians, she considers them to be the “guardians of the sacred heritage” and asks for their support in her bid to purify the country of any “western influence”. There are also many other African leaders who consider homosexuality un-African and un-natural. In fact, only South Africa is somewhat liberal where gay rights are concerned.
Reports state that the cause of this stirring for an anti-gay bill is a gay-rights activist known as Ponpon, who demanded same-sex marriage in Liberia, which prompted the Senator’s move against homosexuals. Some people believe that talking about gay marriage in a country where just being gay is still a taboo places an undue burden on those who are trying to fight for the basic gay rights of living and association. In fact, blogger Sebaspace even thinks that gay bashing is a political diversion and that “gay bashing is being used to divert attention away from economic mismanagement and government malfeasance”.
In addition to Liberia, Uganda is also toughening its policies on same-sex marriage by re-tabling the 2009 “Kill the gays” bill even as the parliament had been clear last year that it was “not interested” in the bill. Sarah Mpabwa, an army representative in Parliament, said all bills and reports that were shelved in Uganda’s eighth Parliament should be saved and re-tabled for discussion. This revelation caused Ugandan gay-rights activists to start a petition and protest against the Anti-gay uproar taking place in Africa. A gay man, (speaking to AFP), said: “We have chosen to be gay, that is what we want, and that is what we like. That is what we have chosen and we want to display it. I don’t want to continue in hiding. But if you try to display it now you will be mobbed.”
David Bahati, author of the Bill has reportedly said that, “the most important thing is that once the Bill passes there can be no more promotion of ‘that behavior’ in Uganda. That the government will clamp down on organizations and NGOs which promote homosexuality”.Â In fact, he continued that Ugandans will not be blackmailed by the West, that the West is bringing the idea of homosexuality to Uganda and telling Africans what to do about homosexuality. Calling this “Imperialism” he asserts that Africa won’t be blackmailed by their few dollars.
The Bill, meanwhile, is still under consideration and Jewel Taylor is under the scanner due to the inhumane comments she made, to this scrutiny she replies, “We are only strengthening the existing law. 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,” as told to the Associated Press.
Whatever be the decision, the fact remains that traditionalists have always been wary of gay rights and extremists leave no stone unturned to nip it from the society. It remains to be seen whether humanity still persists or will the twin monsters of politics and tradition trample the cries of an already misjudged community.
Image courtesy:Â http://www.informafrica.com/breaking-news-africa/liberias-senate-to-consider-bill-against-gay-marriage/