Liberia may pass a new law that would jail gay couples for life for marrying legally in another country.
The Committee on Judiciary and Gender is currently reviewing the law.
Liberia currently punishes gay sex with a fine and up to one year in prison. However, the potential new legislation would introduce a tougher penalty for ‘same-sex sexual practices’.
The reform would also deny anyone arrested for gay sex bail and punish it with prison sentences from 10 years to life.
The bill’s sponsor says it is necessary to ‘preserve the African culture’.
Liberia bill necessary to ‘preserve African culture’
Steven McGill, executive director of Stopping Aids In Liberia (SAIL), told Gay Star News the new law would ‘devastate’ the LGBTI community.
‘It’s going to increase the violations of human rights in Liberia,’ he also said.
‘The law will set the community back in a panic. We will be living in a state of discrimination where anyone will be free to attack gay people.’
Last week on Saturday, 60 people held an event to raise awareness of LGBTI issues.
Vigilantes surrounded the event, refusing to let anyone leave or face mob violence. They hijacked the premises and refused to let them out.
McGill said he heard that people said ‘they were gonna kill them’.
Thankfully, a rescue team freed the 60 people from the event. There were no casualties or arrests.
‘This speaks to the rising homophobia in Liberia,’ McGill told GSN.
‘It’s creating an environment for people to act out. It’s going to make life more difficult and harder for LGBTI people.
‘Politicians should be protecting anti-discrimination. They should not be demonizing people of a minority sexual orientation or gender identity.
‘People have the right to live, right to love, right to be.’
McGill is unsure of whether the law will pass. However, he is deeply concerned that any law like this will force LGBTI people to stay in hiding. And if they do, that means less people will seek treatment for HIV or seek out ways to prevent sexually-transmitted diseases.
Source: Gay Star