The House of Representatives is debating an Act to amend Chapter 14(d) of the new penal code of Liberia to add subsection 14.80 to make same sex marriage in the country a ‘First Degree Felony’.
Political pundits and legal minds believe that those practicing the acts (Gays, Lesbians) are reportedly on their knees praying.
The amended penal code, which was introduced by Lofa County Representative Clarence Massaquoi, initially called for the criminalization of the practice of same sex in the country.
However, following a careful cross examination and thorough review of the Act, the plenary of the House of Representatives Monday 12 November 2018, charged its committee on judiciary to review the document and make appropriate report and recommendation(s) to plenary within a week’s time.
Given its sensitive nature, same sex or the practice of ‘Homosexualism, or Lesbianism’, is a very hot topic that often provokes a lot of debates around the country. These practices, though accepted under the universal human rights declaration and also Article three of the Liberian Constitution, are nonetheless considered a serious taboo in the country.
People who practice the act are often jeered at and publicly despised. A majority of the country’s population deems the practice ‘Unafrican’ and one that undermines the typical Liberian tradition which forbids man and man or woman and woman to engage in same sex affairs.
Also, in the past, concerns have been raised on the health risks that the practice poses to the society. Unofficial medical reports indicate that sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) are easily spread in the society through such practice due to their unsafe nature.
In Liberia, attempts in the past to introduce same sex marriage legislation was welcomed with skyrocketing angers by majority of the population, thus scaring its presumed authors to hold back on their action.
“Same sex practice is not part of our African culture and therefore we cannot welcome it in Liberia,” a political pundit, claiming anonymity, told the ‘Liberian Network’, local online site a fortnight ago.
In an attempt to find a balance between which practice should be accepted in the society and those that should be rejected, debate on the issue has always produced staggering contra-positives in the country.
“Article three (3) of the Liberian Constitution calls for all persons to be given their freewill to decide which type of relationship or practice that he or she may want to engage in. I also believe that the continual stamping on the rights of persons engaged in same sex practice also means violation of their fundamental human rights,” one female student at the State run University of Liberia (UL), also speaking under strict rule of confidentiality, told this news outlet in a separate conversation.
However, despite contrasting opinions expressed on the issue, the Lofa County legislator, Clarence Massaquoi, appears to be confident and hopeful that his latest proposition on same sex practice would be acted upon by fellow legislators, saying that: “This instrument is no longer mine. It is now the property of the plenary of the House of Representatives, and I am very sure that it will be passed because, it is a good law that will benefit our society.”
African Tradition, Culture
“This Bill will benefit us (Liberians) because it has a lot of advantages that our people will realize after its finalization,” Representative Clarence Massaquoi, author of the amended Act, also told a team of legislative reporters in an interview following his submission of the instrument to the plenary of the House of Representatives.
“It is not all things that we have to borrow from the West. As Africans, we must stick to the African culture and practice. We must have something that will give us that unique identity as Africans. All around the West African region, countries are adopting their own rules and measures regarding this practice. We, too, must model what our African brothers are doing,” Representative Massaquoi explained.