LIberia: Youth Fleeing Persecution Lacks Access to Social Protection

Mohammed Kamara, on a break from one of his classes, walked into the seaside apartment of his friend in a clustered community of corrugated roofs for a nap. Then 17, Kamara, not his real name, was a newly minted high school graduate and a college freshman, studying public administration at a local university in Monrovia.

Community members, suspecting Kamara’s friend was gay, broke down the door and caught the duo making out, thirty minutes after he entered. “They dragged us outside naked as we were and started to beat us,” Kamara recalled as he wiped away tears from his eyes.

A female community member recognized him as the son of a prominent individual and intervened until the police could arrive. “They called my father but when he heard what happened, he fainted. I kept shaking and nodding my head – the only thing I wanted to do was to kill myself.”

Kamara and his friend, under the heavy crowd of the mob shouting homophobic slurs and armed with deadly weapons, were rescued by the police and taken to a nearby depot downtown adjacent the Palm Grove Cemetery and a notorious ghetto.

Then a teenager, he was placed in the custody of the Women and Children Protection Section of the Police while his friend, who was over 18, was placed behind bars.  The Liberian penal code considers sexual relations between a minor and an adult as statutory rape.

At the depot, he was met by his brother who was on hand to bail him out. “The police called journalists to take our pictures to make a big story but my brother protested against it,” Kamara remembered.

Lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth have greater vulnerability to a wide range of health, mental health and social problems such as eating orders, sexually transmitted diseases, school difficulties, forced sex, homelessness, violence and suicide, according to a report from the U.S. National Institute of Health.

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