Gay citizens living in and around Monrovia are being persecuted, not only for living a homosexual lifestyle, but also for allegedly causing the Liberian Ebola outbreak. Members of the LGBT community have been harassed, physically attacked, and have had their personal property damaged in retaliation for the spread of Ebola. The retaliation is happening due to church leaders stating that God is punishing Liberia for the acts of sodomy that occur there.
An LGBT campaigner in Monrovia, Leroy Ponpon, stated that violence towards gays has escalated since church leaders put Ebola’s blame on the gay community. He told Reuters that some are asking for the death penalty as a punishment for being gay.
“Since church ministers declared Ebola was a plague sent by God to punish sodomy in Liberia, the violence toward gays has escalated. They’re even asking for the death penalty. We’re living in fear.”
The rumored cause of Ebola was first initiated by the Liberian Council of Churches when they releases a statement proclaiming that God is angry with Liberians for allowing homosexual relations to occur, issuing Ebola as punishment for the misdeeds. Archbishop Lewis Zeigler has spread word of God’s choice of using Ebola as punishment, further inciting violence against the LGBT community.
“[O]ne of the major transgressions against God for which He may be punishing Liberia is the act of homosexuality,”
The violence has become so intense that many in the gay community will not leave their house in the day, but are afraid to venture out into the dangerous night. Ponpon revealed that those who do venture out in the daytime have taken to wearing disguises and hiding their true identities.
“In the day, we move around wearing sunglasses and disguises. The problem with moving at night is that it is not safe in Monrovia in the dark, and also, if you violate the Ebola curfew, it is punishable by imprisonment,”
In Liberia, voluntary sodomy is a first degree misdemeanor and could result in up to a year in jail if found guilty. With the added accusation of bringing forth the plague of Ebola, death may also be sentenced to those living in Liberian gay communities. A resolution for protection of LGBT rights was passed in August within the African Union, which must be adopted by all authorities to protect their LGBT citizens. However, authorities in Monrovia are turning a blind eye to the resolution thus far.
Ponpon hopes things will get better in the near future, stating that “right now, all we want is protection.”
[Photo Courtesy: New York Daily News]