(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Same-sex sexual acts are illegal in Liberia.
The New Penal Law 1978 amending the Penal Code defines ‘voluntary sodomy’ as a first-degree misdemeanour, punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for up to one year.
In July 2012, the Senate passed an amendment to the Domestic Relations of Liberia Bill, also known as the ‘Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Bill’, in order to expressly prohibit same-sex marriage.
Another bill currently considered by the Liberian legislature, the amendment to the New Penal Code Chapter 14, aims to expressly criminalise same-sex acts between both men and women with a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years.
Moab v Gonzales, 500 F.3d 656 (7th Cir. Sept. 13 2007): although the ruling focuses on credibility, the US Court of Appeals supported a finding that a homosexual man in Liberia faced a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of his sexual orientation, after having suffered beatings in his country of origin.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE'S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The US State Department notes that the current law on ‘voluntary sodomy’ is rarely enforced. However, incidents of harassment and violence have been reported in the country. On 12 October 2013, according to the same report, two men in Monrovia were attacked by a mob on suspicion of ‘being gay’. Despite attempts to report the incident to the police, the two men continued to face threats and ultimately fled their homes.
More generally, Liberian culture remains strongly opposed to homosexuality, thereby forcing LGBTI persons to conceal their sexual identity, according to the US State Department. As Human Rights Watch explains in its 2013 report entitled It’s Nature, not a Crime, homosexuality is generally perceived as ‘un-African’ and immoral, and often imputed to Western behaviour espoused by the country’s privileged elite. Anti-gay sentiment and hostility towards LGBTI populations have been fuelled by both media and political discourse in recent years, according to Human Rights Watch.
Although same-sex conduct is already criminalised, the Liberian legislature has been considering more repressive legislation in recent years, according to Human Rights Watch; however, the ‘bills have been lain dormant in the respective legislative houses’ according to Human Rights Watch.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We do not currently list any NGOs working with LGBTI populations in Liberia, but welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
Dr Benjamin N. Lawrance
Professor of History at the University of Arizona
Email: benlawemail [dot] arizona [dot] edu
Benjamin N. Lawrance is the former Conable Chair in International Studies at Rochester Institute of Technology and is currently a professor of history at the University of Arizona.He has conducted field research in West Africa since 1997 and published extensively about political and social conditions. He has served as an expert witness in the asylum cases for over 130 West Africans in the US, Europe and Canada which have involved human trafficking, citizenship, statelessness, female genital cutting, gender issues, gender identity, ethnic and religious violence, and witchcraft accusations.
Researched by: Minos Mouzourakis
Email: minosmouzourakisgmail [dot] com