The high priority given equal rights for homosexuals in United States Foreign Policy activities may not have gone down well with many African nations. President Barrack Obama had instructed his officials to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender persons” around the world. In consonance with the foregoing, legal, moral and financial support would be boosted for gay rights organizations, while emergency assistance would be sent to groups or individuals facing threats, and asylum in the US would be offered to people forced to flee anti-gay persecution in their countries.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to discrimination against homosexual and transgender people as “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time,” further emphasizing that it was a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished.
The fact the United States Government even threatened to hold back international aid to countries failing to adhere to such foreign policy further exacerbated the anti-gay sentiments across the continent with almost all of Africa’s 54 nations banning homosexuality as a crime against African culture/tradition. Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, as well as Zimbabwe, among others had all vehemently resisted same sex marriage with the necessary and appropriate laws, despite criticism and opposition from the West to primarily include the United States and United Kingdom.
Since the inception of this U.S. Foreign Policy and the debate which followed on the African continent, the Government of Liberia is yet to take a decisive position on the practice. As a result of the government’s conspicuous silence, the Christian Community in Liberia seems not to be taking the matter lightly. Permanently among the clergy publicly joining the debate on same sex marriage are Bishop Stephen Y. Binda of the Sinkor Free Pentecostal Church, as well as Catholic Arch-Bishop Louis Zeekler, among others.
While President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Administration may be struggling to maintain a middle level position on the issue, they are yet to officially reject or accept the call by President Obama and the West for African governments to adopt same sex marriage or risk forfeiting financial aid. Catholic Prelate Ambrose Kromah of the St. Kizito Catholic Church in Paynesville, outside Monrovia even wondered if the continuous conspicuous silence of the Liberian Government on this critical issue could be interpreted as acceptance or rejection of same sex marriage, which should then be reflected in the code of conduct and the Vision 2030 otherwise known as Agenda for Transformation.
All in all, with the debate continuously spreading across Liberia, it is only nationally worth-wide for the Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to make its position publicly known to the people of Liberia. Whether or not it is in adherence with Obama’s policy on equal rights for homosexuals or same sex marriage in Liberia now is the time to go public as was done by other Africa nations.