Liberian senate set to consider anti-gay bill

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The Liberian senate is reported to be considering a bill today which would increase the penalties against gay people in the west African state.

AP reports that even if it were approved, president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would not sign the bill, which would make gay sexual relations a first degree felony.

There are conflicting reports of what sanction the offence would attract.

Jewel Howard Taylor, ex-wife of former president Charles Taylor, tabled the bill in her new capacity as senator.

She told AP: “We are only strengthening the existing law. Some media are reporting that I said anyone found guilty of involvement in same sex should face the death penalty.

“I did not say so. I am calling for a law that will make it a first degree felony.”

A representative for Howard-Taylor confirmed in emails received by last week that the first degree felony would attract punishment of one year to life imprisonment and the death penalty on the judge’s discretion in “extreme cases”.

The proposed bill would alter the domestic relations laws of Liberia to forbid gay marriage alongside incestuous unions.

The bill’s proposed amendment as sent to also reads: “No two persons of the same sex shall have sexual relations. A violation of this prohibition will be considered a first degree felony.”

According to a 2008 ILGA report, gay sex acts are currently classified as first degree misdemeanors in Liberia punishable by up to one year in prison.

The news comes after reports emerged from Cameroon today than ten women had been arrested for being lesbians.