US based Liberian gay rights activist calls for protection of their rights … cautions Liberians ahead of 2017 elections

By: Eldred Wlemongar Thomas/GNN Reporter

Gay Rights Activist Roosevelt Howard
Gay Rights Activist Roosevelt Howard

A Liberian gay rights activist based in the United States has admonished Liberians to vote leaders in the pending 2017 general and presidential elections that will promote and protect the rights of all, including gay and lesbians in the country.

Speaking in an interview with the GNN via mobile phone from the United States, Roosevelt Howard said for so long the gay and lesbians community in Liberia have been marginalized, something he lamented is a violation of their fundamental rights.

According to him, Liberia today is underdeveloped because the rights of certain people are not respected and protected, stressing, “Gay community has a lot to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Liberia, but they have been denied rights due to the manner in which people see them in society,” Mr. Howard said.

He wonders why religions and traditional people continue to marginalize gay and lesbians, but declined to speak against young boys and girls who dress indecently in the streets of Monrovia and other acts that are negatively impacting the society nowadays in Liberia.

Mr. Howard said Liberia has suffered for too long as a result of the fourteen years civil unrest, and blamed it on what he called selective choice and justice; by denying others their rights.

He then called on the Liberian Government, local and international actors to see reason for the rights of others to be respected and protected, including the rights of gay and lesbians, stressing, “Because they are part of society and must not be treated differently”.

Mr. Howard speaking further to our reporter maintained that the gay community in Liberia will continue to constructively engage the government and the citizens on their rights until they are equally treated fairly in society.

The advocacy for the rights of gay and lesbians the world over is increasing by the day with some pushing for legal status to the dismay of many Liberians home and abroad who strongly opposed same sex marriages today.

Liberians home and abroad are said to be divided over the passage of laws to legalize same sex marriages in the country.

But, Howard said he will not be moved by neglect and other forms marginalization in advocacy for gay rights.

According to Howard, gay and Lesbians in Liberia are not speaking for their rights due to fear of discrimination and to some extend prosecution.

Some Liberians who spoke to our staff also expressed disappointment over such advocacy coming from Mr. Howard, and described the act as shameful and an abominable, especially for a country like Liberia built on a Christian principle.

“Such advocacy is straightly against our traditional and cultural norms of Liberia and must not be given any level of endorsement, the Liberians lamented”

The Liberians in a rather angry tone vowed to detest and resist any attempt by government to give to huge donor funding to consider same sex marriage in the country.

It can be recalled the then gay activist Archie Ponpon narrowly escaped death at the hands of angry mob when he launched a campaign for homosexual and lesbians in the country.

Mr. Ponpon was chased from the University of Liberia Fendell and main Campuses by aggrieved students following his appearance on a local Radio station, Truth FM in central Monrovia propagating his gay rights platform.

Ponpon, who is now a staff at the Temple of Justice ceased his advocacy on same sex marriages since the incident that many believed brought him to more prominence, but later felt his life was being threatened by anti-gay supporter.

In Sudan, southern Somalia and northern Nigeria homosexuality is punishable by death, while in Uganda, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone, offenders can receive life imprisonment for homosexual acts.

In addition to criminalizing homosexuality, Nigeria has enacted legislation that would make it illegal.

But in Liberia, there is absolutely no law making the act punishable, but majority of Liberians have strongly opposed the practice in the country.

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About Cholo Brooks 14335 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.