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|Crippling His Constituency? Lofa Lawmaker’s Anti Gay Bill Quest Under Scrutiny||| Print ||
|Written by Stephen D. Kollie, email@example.com, 0776329124|
|Friday, 16 August 2013 00:34|
Monrovia - Lofa County district #3 representative Clarence Massaqoi’s quest to impose a law criminalizing homosexuality and lesbianism as well as same- sex marriages or affairs on the soil of Liberia appears to be raising eyebrows among constituents of his district, who fears loosing developmental aid from big and richer nations like the United States, France and United Kingdom who has channel vast of their assistance through International Humanitarian Organizations.
Some citizens from Kolahun district who occupy the largest portion of district #3 that spoke to FrontPage Africa recently asserted that the introduction of Hon. Massaquoi ant-gay bill without adequate consultation from them is landing the district’s developmental drive to a dangerous standpoint in the eyes of the international community.
James Koryon, a resident of Kolba City asserted in a frustrated tone: “Rep. Massaquoi’s support for that anti-gay bill was too quick and today it is gradually glaring that our district stands the risk of losing the necessary help we needed. Though gay and lesbian affairs are not accepted under our culture, I think for the sake of our district he should have remained mute rather than being for or against.”
The anti-gay bill introduced by Rep. Massaquoi currently in the house committee room is an Act to amend the New Penal Code Chapter 14, Sub Chapter D and to add a new Section 14.80 making Same Sex sexual practices a criminal offence in Liberia.
The Act states among other things that immediately after the passage of the Act, Chapter 14, Sub-Chapter D of the New Penal Code will now be amended and that Section 2 Sub-Chapter 14.80 will be added to which states that a person is guilty of Same Sex Sexual practices if he/she has sexual intercourse with another person of the same gender (male/female) with or without the consent of either person.
The Act also states that a person is guilty if he/she purposefully engages in acts that arouses or tend to arouse another person of the same gender (male/female) to have sexual intercourse; willfully, and with total disregard to societal moral dignity, seduces, encourages, promotes another person of the same gender (male/female) to engage into sexual activities.
According to the proposed bill which, Same Sex Sexual Practices is a felony of the Second degree, and as such the trial of all cases under Chapter 14.80 shall be heard in open Court.
In a communication to plenary of the House dated February 6, 2012, Representative Clarence Massaquoi informed the body that Article 5(b) of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia makes it a binding duty for Liberia to preserve, protect and promote positive Liberian culture and ensure that the traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the Liberian society.
He reminded his colleagues that owing to the fact that Liberia is a secular State, it is also obligated to protecting its moral and religious values and therefore cannot and must not subscribe to such ugly practice of same sex that is strange to the African society.
But Koryon says since Rep. Massaquoi’s anti-gay bill was introduced months, his district has over the time witness the drawdown or pullout of several local and international NGOs as a result of insufficient donors fund to sustain their operations. “The money that is given to theses NGOs you saw here were ditched out by people with different sexual orientations. What do you think a gay donor could say or do if he discovers that his fellow gay men here are been pushed on the wall by the same people he’s helping? Koryon wonders.
Speaking at the end of a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Perth, western Australia, in October last year UK’s prime minister David Cameron threatened to Consider withholding Aid from countries that do not recognize gay rights
Said Cameron: “Britain is now one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights, and that includes how people treat gay and lesbian people. British aid should have more strings attached, in terms of do you persecute people for their faith or their Christianity, or do you persecute people for their sexuality?. We don’t think that’s acceptable.”
He insisted the issue of gay rights had been discussed at the summit and he had personally raised it with “a number of the African countries that I’ve been speaking with,” although he would not name anyone.
Continued Cameron: “We’ve been raising the issue consistently; we’ve been raising it here at this Commonwealth heads of government (summit).They are in a different place from us on this issue. … I think these countries are all on a journey and it’s up to us to try and help them along on that journey.”
Supporters of same-sex unions agree that marriage is fundamental to society. Therefore it should be extended to include all couples, straight or gay. According to them, denying same-sex couples the right to marry – or outright banning gay marriage violates their human rights.
Patrick Kollie, a former Sanitation observer for a local NGO in Kolahun says though it culturally remains prohibited for same sex marriages in Liberia , but Rep Massaquoi should have cautiously scrutinize the consequences the anti-gay bill would convey against his district which is rated as one of the most under developed region in Lofa County.
Said Kollie: “Kolahun has always been crying for development. We elected him as a complete face for our district when it comes to development. So I don’t think he should be introducing things that will hamper us tomorrow. It will not be a surprise if even UN leaves us vulnerable today.”
Rep Massaquoi’s bill is an addition of another anti-gay bill passed by the Liberian senate under the sponsorship of Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor and sent to the lower house for concurrence.
The two bills were introduced weeks after president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in for the second term as intense gay and lesbian rights campaigns began in Monrovia by gay activist Archie Ponpon.
Instantaneously after the introduction of the two bills at the National Legislature, the United Nations Humanitarian office raised graved concern about booth bills before the House of Representatives.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN’s Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, said in a statement: “We are … concerned about the atmosphere of intimidation and violence against gay and lesbian activists, as well as reports of attacks against them. Such harassment illustrates the difficult, discriminatory environment in which gay rights activists are operating. The proposals going through the legislature could make an already bad situation for lesbian and gay people in Liberia even worse.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the same time called on African leaders to respect gay rights in their respective countries. Speaking at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last year Mr. Moon said discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity has been "ignored or even sanctioned by many states for far too long."
"It prompted governments to treat people as second-class citizens or even criminals," he told AU leaders,
"Confronting these discriminations is a challenge, but we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration [of human rights]," he said.
AllAfrica.com reported at the time that an activist group called Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender ( LGBT) had began an online petition calling for Sirleaf’s Nobel Peace Prize to be revoked if she signs the law, pointing out that in her campaign, candidate Sirleaf vowed to veto any legislation regarding homosexuality.
But in a letter to the Guardian after it published a video interview in which President Sirleaf was asked about decriminalising homosexuality and replies: “We like ourselves the way we are,” the government of Liberia said what the president is on record as saying is that any law brought before her regarding homosexuality will be vetoed. This statement also applies to an initial attempt by two members of the Liberian legislature to introduce tougher laws targeting homosexuality,” the letter said. It added that the government believed current legislation was sufficient. “The reality is that the status quo in Liberia has been one of tolerance and no one has ever been prosecuted under that law.
United States President Barack Obama having been under intense pressure by Americans last year to lay out a clear stance on same-sex marriage after Vice President Joe Biden and other top advisers endorsed it, disclosed in an ABC TV broadcast that after years of lengthy discussions with friends and family, including his wife and two young daughters, he now "personally" believes gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.
"I've been going through an evolution on this issue. I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally," President Obama said in a television interview with ABC. "At a certain point I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
“The president also thinks that with the unprecedented freedom of speech and expression Liberia enjoys today, our budding democracy will be strong enough to accommodate new ideas and debate both their value and Liberia’s laws with openness, respect and independence.”
Three prominent world leaders whose countries have played a major role in the development of Africa have openly express their support for same-sex marriages and have even gone further to urge other leaders to follow suit The presidents of France, United States and the United Kingdom Prime Minister have in recent times called for the rights of gays and lesbians to be respected.
Malawi has already had some of its budget support suspended over concerns about its attitude to gay rights. Concerns have also been raised with the governments of Uganda and Ghana.
Though Mister Cameron’s threat applies only to one type of bilateral aid known as general budget support, and would not reduce the overall amount of aid to any one country it is not clear what individual donors who endorse homosexuality and same sex marriages are resolving to amid cries of INGOs drawing down or quitting the Kolahun district region. But observes foresee more troubles for Hon. Massaquoi’s constituency from the big helping hands in the west.
|Last Updated on Friday, 16 August 2013 04:45|