Rep. Clarence Massaquoi of Lofa Introduces Bill Criminalizing Same Sex Practices

MONROVIA, Montserrado – During its fifth day of sitting during its extraordinary session, the House of Representatives unanimously accepted a communication resubmitted by Rep. Clarence Massaquoi of Lofa’s third district, calling for same-sex practices in Liberia to be made a criminal offense.

Massaquoi called for the penal code to be amended to make same-sex practices a criminal offense.

The Lofa lawmaker said the constitution makes it a binding duty for the republic to preserve, protect, and promote positive Liberian culture and traditions. As a secular state, he said the act would obligate Liberia to protect its morality.

The proposed act would cause a person to be found guilty of same-sex practices if he or she has had sexual intercourse with a person of the same gender, with or without the consent of either person.

The act would also find anyone guilty for purposefully engaging in such act or attempting to engage in the act.

If passed, the law would make “same-sex practices” a first-degree felony. It would also require all trials to be held in open court.

The bill was unanimously accepted by the House of Representatives, with an additional amendment from Maryland’s third district representative, Isaac Roland, to make the offense non-bailable.

The bill was sent to the Gender and Judiciary Committees to report to the general body in one week.

“The constitution mandated us to take action as a legislature to protect our virtues as a country. Same-sex practices will now become a criminal offense,” Massaquoi said after the bill was accepted by the House.

“Some people will say we are violating their rights and choice of their sexuality, but let’s be mindful that where another person’s rights stop is where someone [else’s] begins.”

Massaquoi said unlike countries like the U.S., same-sex practices were not tolerable in Liberia.

Featured photo by Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves is a senior student at the University of Liberia studying Mass Communications and Sociology. She graduated from the Young Political Leadership School and has worked in the past for Farbric Radio, Freedom Radio, and Frontier newspaper.

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