Monrovia: A bill to criminalize Same-Sex Marriage in Liberia has been resubmitted at the plenary of the House of Representatives for further action.
The Bill was contained in a letter from Lofa County District #3 Representative Clarence Massaquoi which was read in the 5thday Sitting of the Extraordinary Session of the House of Representatives.
Unlike the west where Homosexuality is freely practiced, Section 14.72, 73, 74 of the Liberia New Penal Code of 1978, prohibits Voluntary and Involuntary Sodomy which amounts to first-degree felony consistent with section 14.72 or 14.73 respectively. Under Voluntary Sodomy, the law states that ‘a person is guilty when he or she engages in deviant sexual intercourse under circumstances not stated in section 14.72 or 14.73 and is a first-degree misdemeanor felony’.
According to Rep. Massaquoi, the bill seeks to criminalize as a second-degree felony under the law, noting that the mandate to protect the country’s culture, values and traditional heritage is of the essence.
“Every Country has its own value system to protect as such the power lies within us as the legislature to perform changes where necessary, especially with this issue of Same-Sex marriage which borders on evading our cultural values”.
In 2012, the Legislature made an amended to the new penal code with the addition of the section 14.72 on sexual offenses, as it stands, Rep. Massaquoi ’s proposed amendments seek for the addition of section 14.80 subchapter D on same-sex marriage.
Rep. Massaquoi outlined that Liberia will form part of other countries in the sub-region to criminalize such act being practiced which he stated will ensure the adherence and the promotion of Article 5.b of the Liberian constitution.
Article 5.b of the Constitution further states that “the Republic shall preserve, protect and promote positive Liberia Culture, ensuring that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the Liberian Society”.
Cross sections of Liberians view the practice of Same-Sex Marriage or Homosexuality as a crime and gross violation of the tradition.
Liberia, as a signatory to several international instruments including the Universal Declaration On Human Rights, MAPUTU Protocol which calls for the protection of Human rights, irrespective of race, sex, color, is yet to provide the Requisite Avenue, smooth environment and protection of people who desires their right to their sexuality among other things, although its constitution chapter 11a, b, c provides that.
Rep. Massaquoi argues that international documents can never subject the country to devaluing its culture and heritage, at the same time he believes that those instruments are domesticated for the betterment of a country.
“Survival as a citizen is constitutional but the manner in which the right is kept cannot be left to your description, well people will view it as violating people’s choice of their sexuality but we must stand by our values as a country and people should not mix one’s lifestyle with rights issue”.
“We are African and we must be defined by what we believe in so the west will in no way subject us to accepting Same-Sex Marriage as the only means to receive donor funding and other assistance, I say no to that”.
Rep. Massaquoi stated that his proposal to amend the law is in no way judgmental to people’s sexuality or ways of life,
“I am not here to point out people in society who practice that but we are proposing the amendment to the law without any targeted individual, we believe the law will take its course against violators if it is passed”.
Chapter 3 article 11b stresses that all persons, irrespective of ethnic background, race, sex, creed, place of origin or political opinion, are entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, subject to such qualifications as provided for in this Constitution.
Today the House’s plenary voted unanimously to accept the proposed bill for amendment in which the communication was sent to the committees on Gender, Children and Social Protection, and Judiciary for proper scrutiny to report to plenary in a week’s time.
Rep. Massaquoi hopes that plenary will do justice to the bill by involving all components for discussion and possible passage into law in the interest of the country and its citizenry.
When passed into law by the plenary of the House of Representatives, the offense of the amended version of the New Penal Code Chapter 14 sub ‘D’ on Same-Sex Marriage or practice of Homosexuality will become a first-degree felony under the law.