Liberia’s LGBT Community Deserves Respect of Its Pride

Journal Rage is an online news magazine platform dedicated to giving Liberia’s key population a voice.

Nearly a fortnight ago, Liberia’s gay community celebrated the closure of pride month at a discreet location.

So discreet that it called for sexual minorities and allies to clad themselves in black to celebrate the passing of many—some of whom had died from AIDS, suicide, rape, hate crimes, discrimination , lack of access to adequate health care, lack of access to social protection, lack of access to justice, lack of access to housing  and above all, the apparent refusal of their government to protect them.

Pride month goes back to 1969 in New York when sexual minorities were harassed by the Police over their right to claim a safe space and be free within that space. This led to a rebellion and in the months following it, the LGBT movement sprouted, metastasizing itself around the world.

Half a century later, the world is acknowledging and coming to terms that the intricacies of human sexuality are as old as time. And so, it is making progress in the protection of its sexual minorities and understanding that gender was/is nothing more than just a social construct, that sexuality is innate and not a western culture or phenomenon and that lesbians gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer have existed in every society, including Africa.

However, half a century later, in faraway places like Liberia, the resemblance of Stonewall continues to appear. The country’s penal code terms same-sex sexual activity between two consenting adults as “voluntary sodomy” and carries up to a year in prison.

Nobel laureate former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in an interview in 2016 said she wouldn’t sign any law decriminalizing or make further additions on the penal code. She would later go on to say there is no law.

She was not alone. Then, Jewel Howard Taylor, former first lady, senator, and current Vice-President introduced a bill to make homosexuality a first-degree felony. That bill did not pass.A story done in collaboration with New Narratives has shown that living as a sexual minority in Liberia continues to be a bane for many who are daring to be out and those struggling with the space of the closet. Read more via Journal Rage