By Ashley Martin
UN human rights officials are concerned homosexuality may soon become a criminal offense in Liberia, as the country’s legislative body is working towards a law that could result in up to 5 year imprisonment for “homosexual behavior”.
The Liberian House of Representatives has proposed an amendment to the Penal Code that will make homosexual acts illegal.
The legislation, which has already been approved by the Senate, calls for imprisonment or fines for any party that “seduces, encourages, promotes another person of the same gender to engage into sexual activities.”
The Liberian parliament is additionally calling for changes to the Domestic Relations Law that would prohibit same-sex marriage.
The UN human rights chief warned that the proposed law would further endanger lesbian and gay activists in Liberia as well as risk the greater marginalization of vulnerable populations like sex workers and individuals with HIV.
“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.”UN Human Right Commissioner spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said Friday.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says the law would be a violation of international human right treaties already ratified by the Liberian government, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and warned that any laws criminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults violate individuals’ rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination.