Compiled by Richard Ammon
February 2012
Updated  December 2016

Not surprising, homophobia continues its march across sub-Saharan Africa unabated in 2012 as Liberia lawmakers take their turn in proposing hateful anti-gay discriminatory laws. Two lawmakers in Liberia have introduced bills that could make homosexuality more dangerous than it already is but the President Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she will not sign them.

In a cruel twist of fate the former Liberian first lady Jewel Haward Taylor, who was certainly complicit in the slaughter of thousands during her husband’s (Charles Taylor) reign of terror in Liberia, is now a senator; she has proposed to amend the country’s laws to specifically forbid same-sex marriage. Her proposed amendment to marriage laws reads, “No two persons of the same sex shall have sexual relations. A violation of this prohibition will be considered a first degree felony.” First degree punishment can range from 10 years to life imprisonment to the death sentence, on the discretion of the judge.

Not to be outdone, a similar bill was offered in the same week in Liberia’s lower legislative chamber by Rep. Clarence K. Massaquoi (Lofa) claiming the 1986 constitution requires amongst others, the “protection of our cultural and traditional values that should be preserved”. He said the Act to amend the New penal code in the country will discourage the legalization of same sex practice by declaring it a “criminal offense.” But none of the proposals is likely to pass.

Liberia is a constitutional republic with a population of approximately 3.5 million. In 2005 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf  (photo right) won multiparty presidential elections, which domestic and international observers considered generally free and fair. Since the 2003 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the 1989-2003 civil war, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeepers and the UN international police (UNPOL) have had primary responsibility for maintaining security.

Efforts to train personnel for the Liberia National Police (LNP) and Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) continued. While security forces reported to civilian authority, there were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently.

Human rights abuses included one report of mob killing; reports of ritualistic killings; reported incidents of trial by ordeal; police abuse, harassment, and intimidation of detainees and others; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; judicial inefficiency and corruption; lengthy pretrial detention and denial of due process; official corruption and impunity; violence against women, including rape, and widespread domestic violence; female genital mutilation (FGM); child abuse and sexual violence against children; human trafficking; continued racial and ethnic discrimination; and child labor.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits sodomy, and the culture is strongly opposed to homosexuality. “Voluntary sodomy” is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year’s imprisonment; however, no convictions under the law occurred in recent years. There were no reported instances of violence based on sexual orientation. There are no openly LGBT organizations in the country. Rather support and advocacy on behalf of gays is couched within  larger human rights efforts.

Reports About LGBT in Liberia:
From New Dawn
February 24, 2012
Gay Activists Threatened

Liberian gay activist Leroy Archie Ponpon (photo left) and associates were narrowly rushed out of a local radio and television station by Police in Monrovia, after more than 500 people had besieged the area of the radio station to assault him for his campaign to advocate for gay rights.

The news website reported on February 24, as this story was being prepared, “Ponpon and his group had appeared on an early morning talkshow to defend their activism for the legalization of same sex marriage in Liberia. According to bystanders, the manager of the radio station swiftly called in the police to protect members of the group due to the presence of a huge crowd that could not easily be contained by private security guards.

“Most ordinary Liberians, who opposed same sex marriage, have reportedly issued threats against both gay activists and lawmakers, warning them of serious consequences should gay and lesbian marriages be legislated.

“But the activists headed by Ponpon, are insisting that same sex marriage should be legislated to avoid those engaging in the practice hiding their identities for fear of being harmed by angry citizens.

“The advocacy has always encountered harsh responses and condemnations from most Liberians, who argued that the legalization of same sex marriage could worsen immoralities in the country. Most Liberians from diverse backgrounds also expressed fears that accepting such immoral practice in the country will be against their culture and would offend religious doctrines.”

This is the third time that Ponpon has been rescued by police from angry crowd. He escaped attacks twice from angry students on the campus of the University of Liberia.

Liberia: Gay Law Rests With Ellen
From New Dawn
By E.J.Nathaniel Daygbor
February 6, 2012

Foreign Minister- designate Augustine Ngafuan says the passage of any homosexual law in the country is squarely within the domain of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Mr. Ngafuan told the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee during his appearance for confirmation hearings last Friday in Monrovia that as Minister of Foreign Affairs he cannot make any decision regarding the legislation of same-sex marriage in the absence of the President’s input considering the fact that she’s the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy.

“President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the chief planner and final decision-maker when it comes to our foreign relations; the issue regarding gay and lesbianism is little outlandish in the Liberian terrain, especially with the uniqueness of the Liberian culture and tradition,” the Foreign Minister-Designate added.

The outgoing Finance Minister also noted that if the president deemed it more appropriate and conclusive to support the idea, he as minister of foreign affairs would have no choice, but to follow suit… Read full story


Movement of the Defense of Gay and Lesbian Rights
Advocates Snare in Society Woven In African Tradition
Africa Online
by Gboko John Stewart & J. Rufus Paul
11 January 2012

Sitting on Carey Street well dressed in a pink shirt with a matching tie and a blue pair pf trouser, Leroy Archie Ponpon hands out a brochure of his burgeoning movement, which was launched on the campus of the University of Liberia, to listeners and passers-by who are interested in his cause. His group, Movement of the Defense of Gay and Lesbian Rights (MODEGAL), is gaining a bit of popularity. He’s wanted on every talk show. Since the pronouncement by Hilary Clinton that African nations should honor gay right or be denied aid, you cannot talk about it without mentioning Leroy Archie Ponpon. He has become the new kid on the block. He’s no longer stoutly defending the policies of the Congress for Democratic Change. Known to be a controversial figure, he has shifted his attention to something considered a taboo in Africa: defending gay rights.

Campaigner for the legalization of gay rights

Self-styled exponent campaigner for the legalization of gay rights and same sex marriage in Liberia Tuesday affirmed that members of his group have gone into hiding for fear of their lives, but vowed to continue their advocacy. Speaking to this paper from his hideout, chief executive officer Leroy Archie Ponpon of the Movement for the Defense of Gay and Lesbian Rights (MODEGAL), said, “We have gone into hiding because of public outrage and threats of attacks on our lives.”…