Liberian senator tables ‘gay death penalty’ bill

Stephen Gray February 17, 2012
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Updated: 18:28 GMT

The former first lady of Liberia has reportedly tabled a bill which could make homosexuality in the country punishable by death in her new capacity as a senator.

AFP reported that Jewel Howard Taylor, erstwhile wife of former president Charles Taylor, wants gay sex to attract a penalty ranging from 10 years imprisonment to execution.

The proposed amendment to the country’s marriage laws reads: “No two persons of the same sex shall have sexual relations. A violation of this prohibition will be considered a first degree felony.”

The office of Jewel Howard Taylor told she was “not homophobic and does not harbor any hatred towards gays”, and said the first degree felony created is actually one of attempting to enter into a gay marriage, not of performing gay sex acts. has asked the senator’s office to clarify the penalty for the offence.

George Tengbeh told AFP the bill aims “to prevent the parliament from talking about such an issue that is against our tradition and culture”.

He added that gay rights were “not suitable for” Liberia because it “does not allow such things to happen”. Gay acts are already illegal in the sub-Saharan country and attract a penalty of up to three years in prison, AFP reported.

An official statement by the government last month said: “The Liberian government will not allow the legalisation of gay and lesbian activities in Liberia. The president has vowed not to allow such a bill, and even if the bill goes before the president she will veto it.”

The Speaker of Liberia’s House of Representatives has said no gay rights bills will make progress during his tenure.

Liberia was colonised by slaves freed in America and in 1847 the current republic was formed.

Two civil wars ravaged the country in the late twentieth century and the US has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the state in the years since.

The proposed amendment comes after Uganda’s infamous anti-gay bill was reintroduced to the parliament by its sponsor this month.

More: Africa, Africa, death penalty, Gay rights, liberia, Rights

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