Liberia: LGBT Community Says Discrimination Impedes Access to Justice and Healthcare

MONROVIA, Montserrado – May 17 marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Liberia are using the opportunity to draw attention to how discrimination impedes their access to healthcare.

Members of the LGBT community say they are often denied basic treatment and other healthcare delivery services by health workers who see them as the antithesis to Liberian culture.

Quire Muertos, a sex worker and transgendered woman, disclosed in an interview that she has been denied treatment on several occasions by nurses at the John F. Kennedy Memorial and Redemption Hospitals because of her sexual and gender orientations.

“They always say that the reason we get sick is the way we chose to live, which God is against,” she said.

She said in addition to denying her treatment, health workers have also accused her and other members of her community of being the source of illnesses. Because of such discrimination and stereotyping, Muertos said LGBT people most often are afraid to visit health facilities.

As a sex worker, she said her case is even worse because the police have only not refused to protect her as a citizen, but she has been jailed her for crimes of sodomy when she complained that a client physically assaulted her when she requested fees for sex services rendered.

Another transgender woman who only identified herself as Rico also told a similar story of having been assaulted by individuals and sometimes jailed by police officers.

“For me, I feel not bad – no guilt about who I am. I feel proud to be a transgender,” she noted, although she wished to live in a Liberia free of discrimination.

Another young member of the LGBT community, Jessica Conteh, said she was forced to drop out of school because her schoolmates could not tolerate her being a lesbian.

While out of school, she said she was also given notice by her landlord and forced out of her community because people believed she would convince other young girls in the community to become lesbians too. She is now squatting with a friend in a different community. Read more via BushChicken