Claim: Weah’s Government Endorses Gay Rights at Democracy Summit

Full text: Liberia has been against same-sex marriage since it became a country.

The Penal Law of Liberia, dated as far back as 1976, prohibited same-sex. The law criminalizes acts of ‘sodomy,’ broadly defined. This provision carries a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment. Both men and women are criminalized under this law.

Also, in November of 2018, a bill was introduced to amend the Penal Code to criminalize ‘same-sex practices.’ It was not discussed before the legislature went on recess in December.

In 2012, A bill that would further criminalize ‘homosexual behavior was passed by the Liberian Senate, although former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf vetoed the instrument.

One of the famous slogans Liberians know is “Liberia was founded on a Christian principle,” a belief they have to the point that some Liberians see the nation drawing from its “Christian” national principles. Efforts were made by a Church group under the banner of Liberia Restoration to Christian Heritage Committee (LRCHC) on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, to petition the Liberian Legislature to Christianize Liberia from its current secular state.

The group solicited over 700,000 signatures from across the country to amend specific provisions of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia to give the Christian religion an exclusive religious right.

In the face of all these requests from the citizens of Liberia through their lawmakers, international partners who protect the rights of all humans have, on the other hand, been advocating to ensure the sexual orientation rights of those who believe in the act of same-sex are respected.

Recently, a delegation from Liberia headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah attended a Democracy Summit in Lusaka, Zambia.

They had discussions on many things, including democracy.

At the end of their discussion, a communiqué was signed by the 76 countries that attended the Summit in Lusaka. 

The communiqué, with many counts, highlighted rights to freedom of democracy, combating authoritarian trends, civil and political rights, and the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights.

Count eight of the document was evident when it spoke to protecting the sexual orientation of all people.

Count eight states, “To promote respect for human rights and equality for all individuals and combat all forms of discrimination and exclusion on any grounds, consistent with international human rights law, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including based on gender, race, ethnicity, color, religion or belief, national or social origin, property, birth, indigeneity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, pregnancy, political opinion, class, genetic information, or age, and promote inclusion and the full and equal participation of all individuals in marginalized or vulnerable situations, including internally displaced persons.”

A newspaper, The Independent Probe Liberia, published this information on its website. At the same time, it was also found here and here, “ Breaking News: Weah’s CDC Government Signed Gay Right.

The “sycophantic” and “hypocritical” supporters and propagandists of Weah’s CDC government should please go tell the Liberian peepo dah [people that]   Weah government approved for men to be having sex with deh boy chayren and women dem to be having sex with deh geh chayren[ sex with the boys children and women them to be having sex with girls children].

Instead of focusing on the issues of development and the laws regarding paedophilia, Rape, sexual abuse, gender violence, etc., people want to use Obed Obed lies to label a man who has been very clear that he is not gay, has been married for 41 years, and has children & grandchildren”.

To verify the claim, TSM sent two WhatsApp messages [April 3 and 4, 2023] to Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, requesting a clear understanding of whether the Liberia delegation signed any document that commits Liberia to gay rights.

Also, a media executive, Malcolm W. Joseph, who attended the conference, was contacted on April 3, 2023, requesting similar clarity. He, too, has yet to reply to the inquiry made by TSM.

But Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Henry B. Fahnbulleh said he has always postulated that the government’s delegation to any international forum should comprise subject-matter experts and experienced technicians.

“We have plenty in the MFA. Why does this matter? There are fine prints and ambiguous languages that are most often buried in documents that only technicians with experience can detect. The composition of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ delegation to recent international meetings leaves much to be desired,” said Fahnbulleh.

The Deputy Minister added that the document was never read, but Minister Kemayah affixed his signature, committing the government of Liberia, even though matters appertaining thereto are sensitive and explosive in our part of the world.

Meanwhile, Liberia’s Minister of Information, Culture Affairs, and Tourism, Legdgerhood Julius Rennie, appeared on State Radio, LBS, and said the information was fake and misleading, despite  Liberia ever signing the said document.

The Liberian Minister said the discussion held at the Summit was about democracy, and nothing about Gay rights was discussed, as claimed by the newspaper.

Acarous Gray, Montserrado District #8 lawmaker, when contacted, said that though the minister of Foreign Affairs signed the declaration, it needs rectification by lawmakers before implementation.

However, Justina Fayiah, an international relations expert, says not all declarations are to be rectified by the lawmakers; therefore, the signature of Liberia’s foreign minister automatically shows that the country endorses gay rights.

Conclusion: With the information gathered thus far from the publication of the Independent Probe Newspaper and the refusal of Minister Kemayah and others to speak to the claim, combined with a statement from the Minister of Information, it is confirmed that Liberia signed the declaration without reservation, implying that the country endorsed Count 8, which specifically mentions promoting gay rights.

However, we can’t say if the endorsement takes immediate effect in Liberia since the country’s law does not promote the same sex.

Note: This story was updated with a response from Deputy Minister Fahnbulleh


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