Several hundred people from the Christian and Muslim faiths, and from civil society organisations, gathered in Monrovia, Liberia to mark the start of a campaign to press the government into banning equal marriage.

The campaign which started in the country’s capital city on Saturday, hopes to gather over a million signatures to ban gay and lesbian activities there.

Over 25,000 signatures had already been gathered, claimed Jim Tornonlah, the head of the citizens movement spearheading the campaign, reported the Associated Press. 

The Liberian senate previously approved a bill criminalising gay marriages in the west African state, which would have to pass through the House of Representatives there before being sent to the president.

It is unclear whether President Johnson Sirleaf would sign it into law, as she had previously voiced her opposition to equal marriage, and then later, following pressure from the US State Department, she said she would “guarantee people’s civil liberties.”

During Saturday’s anti-equal marriage rally, Rudolph Marsh, representing the Liberia Council of Churches, cited the influence of foreign powers:

“There are good things in America that we can copy,” he said, “we don’t have to copy the bad ones; let’s leave the bad ones with Americans.”

He called for Liberian Muslims and Christians to “stand together and tell the world that Liberia is a place of civilized people and will not allow same-sex marriage.”

Muslim leader Sheikh Omaru Kamara, representing the Muslim faith at the ceremony, commended the coming together of Christians and Muslims, and their sense of purpose in attempting to fight gay rights.

The country’s only known campaigner for LGBT rights, Archie Ponpon, responded on Saturday, saying that LGBT people should be able to practice what they want.

“It is also their right to do what they are doing today,” Ponpon told the Associated Press of the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Liberia.

But he said the campaigners are wrong to make “verbal attacks on me and trying to kill my advocacy.”

Since announcing the formation of the Movement for the Defense of Gays and Lesbians in Liberia (MODEGAL) back in April, Mr Ponpon had been mobbed twice, his mother’s residence was razed to the ground, and he said he was still coming under attack for his beliefs.

He said he was “trying to liberalize the minds of people about the rights of others to do what they want to do.”