Vigilantes threaten to kill Liberian gay activist's family
Joe Wiah reportedly hunted by armed men in Liberia over support for gay rights
Armed men in Liberia threatened to kill a gay activist’s children if his wife didn’t hand him over, reported the country’s Daily Observer newspaper.
The attackers stormed the Congo Town home of Joe Wiah in the early hours of 18 May, accusing him of supporting same-sex marriage legislation in the notoriously homophobic African nation.
But when his wife Sonnie told them she didn’t know her husband’s whereabouts, the assailants held her at gun point, saying they would murder both her and her children if she didn’t reveal where he was.
According to Sonnie, the armed group told her Joe was ‘spoiling’ Liberia’s children.
‘He is advocating for a man to be able to marry another man in Liberia,’ Sonnie reported the men as saying.
‘We are therefore going to hunt and kill all those people who are supporting this ugly and ungodly act in our country.
‘You think we do not know that your husband also supported Father Glakan in spoiling our children at Don Bosco Homes? We are going after him, and if we get him, we are going to kill that stupid fool.’
After searching the house, the attackers left the family unharmed but vowed to find Joe.
Sonnie says she now lives in fear for the safety of her family.
‘What security is there to protect such people like my husband from vigilante justice who are accused of being a gay activist?
‘The simple answer is none. My family therefore lives in insecurity and the life of my husband remains in danger.’
While ‘sodomy’ is already illegal in Liberia, a bill, introduced by former Liberian first lady Jewel Taylor, proposes that homosexuality should be punished with the death sentence.
President of the country and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has defended anti-gay laws, telling The Guardian in March: ‘We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.’