LGBTI Liberians have gone into hiding after church leaders said Ebola was a punishment from God for homosexuality.
LGBTI people in the capital Monrovia have been harassed, beaten and a few have had their cars smashed.
‘Since church ministers declared Ebola was a plague sent by God to punish sodomy in Liberia, the violence toward gays has escalated. They’re even asking for the death penalty. We’re living in fear,’ LGBTI activist Leroy Ponpon told Reuters.
‘In the day, we move around wearing sunglasses and disguises. The problem with moving at night is that it is not safe in Monrovia in the dark, and also, if you violate the Ebola curfew, it is punishable by imprisonment.’
Liberia is the country worst hit by the current Ebola outbreak, with 4,500 infections and 2,700 deaths, and has enforced a curfew, which Ponpon said police used as an excuse not to help LGBTI people who asked for protection.
In May, Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of Monrovia said ‘one of the major transgressions against God for which He may be punishing Liberia is the act of homosexuality.’
‘That God is angry with Liberia, and that Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.’
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is a member of the council, called on all Liberians to observe three days of fasting and prayer ‘to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land.’
In Liberia, ‘voluntary sodomy’ is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.