Liberia: Under US pressure, Sirleaf abandons anti-gay veto
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has now indicated that she will not veto any legislationl legalizing or criminalizing homosexuality in Liberia, after media reports saying she was homophobic.
Sirleaf’s comment is contained in a statement from the Liberian Presidency issued on Tuesday to clarify reports from an interview with British newspaper, The Guardian, that she intended to criminalize same sex relationships.
‘’The Guardian only did not publish her statement but gave a misleading headline to the article,’’ the presidential statement said.
The Liberian leader’s clarification on her stance on the gay issue, comes after the U.S. State Department strongly called on the Liberian President to clarify what she actually meant in her interview with the Guardian. The US and Britain have in recent times linked respect of gay rights and tolerance of homosexual practice to their continuing assistance to African countries.
In that interview, Sirleaf said "I won't sign any law that has to do with that area. None whatsoever."
Months back, President Sirleaf had said in Monrovia that she would veto any law on same sex marriage.
In her Tuesday’s statement, the Liberian President said while there were no anti-homosexuality laws in Liberia, the country’s’ religious and cultural beliefs condemn certain sexual practices.
Africa’s first elected woman President said she would allow the democratic process to take its course and let Liberians discuss issues in an atmosphere of freedom.
She however said she would not condone discrimination against any group or impose her personal beliefs on the population.
‘’President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has spent a lifetime in the struggle for freedom and civil liberties and will never condone discrimination against any group,’’ said Tuesday’s statement from the Liberian presidency.
The statement then Sirleaf reserved her constitutional right to stop what she called “extremist legislation” intended to marginalize or give a particular group of people status based on their sexual orientation or practices.