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Liberian campaign to make same-sex marriage a crime intensifies

A campaign by Christian groups is seeking to add pressure on Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to allow the criminalization of same-sex marriage in the country
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Uwe Kerkow

Efforts to make entering into a same-sex marriage an actual crime have intensified in Liberia, with Christian groups now campaigning to pressure the country’s president on the issue.

A group calling itself the Anti-Gay Rights Campaign is organizing under the slogan ‘No to man marrying man, and no to woman marrying woman,’ under the leadership of the Reverend Doctor Kortu K Brown – a Pentecostal preacher and member of the executive committee of the Liberian Council of Churches.

The group is organizing a petition campaign, which has so far collected 10,000 signatures and is reportedly operating in 13 of the country’s 15 counties and the capital, Monrovia.

The group is aiming to collect at least 100,000 signatures and has called for volunteers.

A woman in her mid 30’s that Liberia’s Analyst newspaper spoke to worried that there would not be enough men to go around if same-sex marriage was allowed in the country.

‘What am I hearing so?’ the woman told the paper.

‘That man should marry man in the Liberia? The men are not plenty already and many women without men then how can they bring this kind of thing in the country?’

The Reverend Cleopatra J Watson, one of the clergy backing the campaign, said it was important that same-sex practices were not legalized in the country.

‘We are fighting for our children’s future,’ Watson said.

‘our children are already going astray. Homosexual practices will be the worst thing to allow them to be engaged in.’

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has said she will oppose efforts to further criminalize homosexuality in the country, but bills put forward by the wife of the country’s disgraced former president Charles Taylor would ban same-sex marriage and allow the death penalty for sex between people of the same sex.

The bill criminalizing same-sex marriage has already passed Liberia’s senate.

Sirleaf-Johnson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, but some African LGBT activists have said she should be stripped of the award if she backs down on her promise to veto further anti-gay legislation.

However Opposition MPs and politicians from within the Government have recently attacked Johnson-Sirleaf over the issue and appear to be using it as a political football against the President.

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