Liberia: Ministry Of Education, Methodist Church Remain Mum On Expulsion Of Teenager

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MONROVIA – Pressure continues to ramp up against the Trinity United Methodist School to reinstate Michael Kanneh following his expulsion from the school. However, the Ministry of Education appears not to be getting involved anytime soon as they have maintained a stony silence on the matter which has kept the Liberian social media abuzz.

Kanneh, 16, a 10th grader was expelled from the Trinity United Methodist School when he applied facial makeup and engaged in a fiery discussion with a female preacher who sought to unsuccessfully preach damnation upon him in a video that has gone viral. The lady accused Kanneh of being a “faggot” in the video.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Maxim Bleethan, in a telephone interview referred the matter to the assistant minister for basic and secondary education; but when pressed furthermore, he re-routed to Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, Minister of Education, who, at the time, was on a tour of Lofa County with President George M. Weah. 

Prof. Sonii did not answer or responded to calls. However, a source in the Ministry says unless an official complaint is filed to the Ministry, it cannot intervene no matter how acute the situation is.

The education department of the annual conference of the United Methodist Church is yet to comment on the matter as well. In a brief interview at his office on June 3, Rev. Christopher Michael, said his office was following up the matter.

The Liberia Annual Conference of the church is amongst three African conferences that have threatened to leave The United Methodist Church if the church lifts its ban on same-sex marriage and ordination, according to the United Methodist News

The expulsion Michael Kanneh of appears to be a litmus test for the church on love, acceptance, and tolerance, observers believe.

LGBTI persons continue to come under threats and record instances of assault, harassment, and hate speech, according to the 2020 U.S. State Department Human Rights report on Liberia

Liberian law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. Article 14.74, 14.79, and 50.7 [of the Penal Code of 1976] consider voluntary sodomy as a first-degree misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment.  

The country has not defined its stance on the protection of the rights of its LGBT population. But Attorney General, F. Musah Dean, during the launch of the UN SOGIE report in November 2020 said the Liberian constitution guarantees protection for all. 

With the election of President Joe Biden who promised protection of LGBT people worldwide, the Liberian gay community continues to remain hopeful.

His expulsion comes at a time many countries across the world are celebrating Pride Month, which is celebrated annually in June. Pride Month is an entire month dedicated to the uplifting of LGBTQ voices, the celebration of LGBTQ culture, and the support of LGBTQ rights, according to People Magazine

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