5A Nobel Winner, Ignoble Laws

Nobel Winner, Ignoble Laws

Declan Mills

ELLEN Johnson Sirleaf, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and current President of Liberia, joined Tony Blair (in his capacity as head of the African Governance Initiative) to give a joint interview to the Guardian newspaper on 19 March. During the interview, Sirleaf defended her country’s laws criminalising homosexuality and refused to consider scrapping them, saying “We like ourselves just the way we are”, a polite warning that she doesn’t consider human rights in Liberia any business of the West. All that Blair could do was sit and squirm in mute embarrassment.

Sirleaf also claimed that she was trying to preserve “traditional values” in African society. This is misleading; pre-colonial African cultures were tolerant of homosexuality, and modern African homophobia stems from the colonisation (and conversion to Christianity) of much of the continent during the Victorian era. In Liberia’s case, the colonisers were African-Americans, freed slaves who brought their Baptist and Episcopalian beliefs with them from the USA.

However, the fact that the freedmen who colonised Liberia in the 1860s had been taught that homosexuality was a sin is no excuse for their descendants believing it 150 years later. The Anglican Church tried to liberalise under Rowan Williams, the last Archbishop of Canterbury. So, what was the result of this attempt to catch up with the rest of the world? Anglican communions across the developing world formed a breakaway organisation, GAFCOM, and are effectively refusing to recognise Canterbury’s authority until the Church reasserts homosexuality’s sinfulness.

There is a greater context to the new laws. Sirleaf is leading a minority government and needs the support of other MPs to rebuild Liberia’s shattered infrastructure and administration. Until recently, Liberian homosexuals lived in secret but not in fear of their lives, but Hillary Clinton’s recent announcement that America’s development aid budget would be used to promote gay rights by tying funding levels to human rights records sparked an upsurge in homophobia across Liberian society. If Sirleaf decriminalised homosexuality she would destroy her political career and potentially end any chance of rebuilding Liberia within this generation.

The Liberian situation is part of a wider surge in homophobia across the continent. Even in South Africa, where homosexuality is legal, so-called ‘corrective rapes’ of lesbians are on the rise. It’s probably only a matter of time before an opportunistic ANC politician decides to distract attention from the allegations of corruption and racism surrounding the party by jumping on the homophobic bandwagon.

In the meantime, what can be done about Liberia? Sirleaf’s claim that it’s none of the West’s business is incorrect: Liberia is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, which is considered legally binding. More to the point, if Liberia wants Western investment to support a Western-style parliamentary democracy, it should realise that respect for human rights is a prerequisite for such a system. Perhaps the simplest way to get across this message is by withholding development aid until the law criminalising homosexuality is repealed.




'Nobel Winner, Ignoble Laws' have 10 comments

  1. May 24, 2016 @ 7:57 pm Jewel Bowdoin

    How can i put up my Blogspot blog on Google Search?

  2. May 24, 2016 @ 9:26 pm Nestor Soucy

    I want to understand where exactly to paste the code on my template inside my blog so the ‘Digg It’ Button shows up for each every post of mine… Also If I desire to show how many diggs I got on a single of my blog post where do I show it? Where exactly should i put the code? And where do I obtain the code from? Nice helping myself with this..

  3. May 25, 2016 @ 7:14 pm cara menghilangkan bopeng bekas jerawat

    I am searching both for blogs that give unbiased, balanced commentary upon all issues or blogs that have a liberal or left-wing slant. Thank you..

  4. May 25, 2016 @ 9:46 pm jam digital masjid

    I’m aiming to build a membership website and individuals have informed me that Joomla works best. I have downloaded Joomla and don’t understand what to do following that. Any help would be significantly appreciated. Will this cover PHP too or do I need to download that?.

  5. May 28, 2016 @ 11:26 pm Mobitubes

    I’m searching for00 out as much about the online browsing community since I can. Would someone please recommend their favorite blogs, tweets handles, or sites that you find most extensive? Which ones are most popular? Thanks!.

  6. May 29, 2016 @ 8:04 pm femizome cream

    In Opera you possess the standard metallic toolbars in which the address pub and file/edit bars are available is the silver precious metal background. How do you customize and change that about?.

  7. May 29, 2016 @ 10:15 pm menoherbs

    Thank you for another magnificent post. The place else may anyone get that type of information in such a perfect approach of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such information.

  8. May 29, 2016 @ 11:49 pm breast up cream

    I’ll start a serious blog which will eventually keep a great deal of articles. I are a visual designer, and my husband does my internet programming, so this is for reals (haha, yes I just said that). That being said, I’ve currently started collecting my content material and writing entries, yet just how much content material should a fresh blog possess when you “unveil” it to the world (ideally)?.. Thanks: ).

  9. May 30, 2016 @ 5:27 pm pro acne obat jerawat

    The mozzila opera is taken off the add remove applications but still it is far from uninstalled. I would really like to uninstall it is right now there any way to uninstall this using control promt or from registry?.

  10. May 30, 2016 @ 7:06 pm ramalan zodiak minggu ini

    Fundamentally, I want it to be within the main page where all of my posts go however I also want to be capable of put it on a different page of my blog dedicated to just that subject matter. Hopefully this makes sense!.

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Images are for demo purposes only and are properties of their respective owners. Old Paper by ThunderThemes.net