The Associated Press is reporting that an anti-gay group in the west African nation of Liberia distributed hit lists over the weekend containing the names of LGBT people and those who support LGBT rights. According to the article, the fliers said that LGBTs and allies ““should not be given space to get a gulp of air;” one member of the Movement Against Gays in Liberia even threatened to “get to them one by one.”
The AP report notes:
The fliers mark the latest development in an increasingly hostile national debate about gay rights in this country on Africa’s western coast.
Lawmakers in February introduced two new pieces of legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by possible jail time. And a vow by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last month to preserve an existing law criminalizing “voluntary sodomy” prompted a statement of concern from the U.S. State Department.
And it correctly points out that this disturbing news out of Liberia is only the latest in a long string of extremist anti-LGBT measures being undertaken in various African countries:
Last year, Nigeria’s Senate voted in favor of a bill that would criminalize gay marriage [sic], gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection. A newly added portion of the bill levels 10 years in prison for those found guilty of organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings.
And in 2009, a Ugandan legislator introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians. The bill was reintroduced earlier this year, though its author has said the death penalty provision will be dropped.
Even in South Africa, the only African nation to recognize gay marriage [sic], gangs carry out so-called “corrective” rapes on lesbians.
And in Liberia, as in Uganda and Nigeria, the extremists justify their bigotry in the name of religion:
“Let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon,” the flier reads. “We urge them to also begin saying their Lord’s prayers.”
Note to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: now might be the time for the United States to put its money where its mouth is. The nation of Liberia, for example, received $172 million in aid from the United States in 2009; last year the Liberian president visited our country to personally make the case for “sustained foreign assistance” to her nation. But in my view, countries that persecute LGBT people and their allies should be forced to decide between holding on to their dangerous extremism and holding on to that American assistance. We should suspend aid to homophobic countries like Liberia and Uganda until they step back from the brink and stop bullying, criminalizing, raping, incarcerating, and murdering their LGBT citizens.