Monday, March 19, 2012

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Defends Law Criminalising Homosexuality in Liberia

The Guardian (UK)
Tamasin Ford and Bonnie Allen
March 19, 2012.
"The Nobel peace prize winner and president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has defended a law that criminalises homosexual acts, saying: "We like ourselves just the way we are."

In a joint interview with Tony Blair, who was left looking visibly uncomfortable by her remarks, Sirleaf told the Guardian: "We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve."

Liberian legislation classes "voluntary sodomy" as a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in prison, but two new bills have been proposed that would target homosexuality with much tougher sentences.

Blair, on a visit to Liberia in his capacity as the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a charity that aims to strengthen African governments, refused to comment on Sirleaf's remarks."
Read the rest here.

Comment: So being the first female president on the continent of Africa has not made Johnson Sirleaf any more sensitive to the plight of those who face similar patriarchal discrimination.

Being the poster-girl for the west it is hardly surprising that Blair looked uncomfortable.  How will he explain to Mrs Clinton that their stooge is also a bigot?

I bet her comments have lost her a whole grip of friends particularly among white feminists in the west who just feted her sellout ass from the day she became the president of Liberia through her becoming a Nobel Peace laureate.

Now how can a Nobel Peace Prize laureate support the systematic oppression of homosexuals?  In Norway it is a crime to discriminate against homosexuals?

If she is allowed to keep the prize does it not in effect mean that they are supporting institutionalized discrimination against gays?

I have never been impressed by this half-baked wannabe who is nothing more than an agent of the US and its allies.

Now she is also a known homophobic bigot and I am even less impressed.

And we are not free.


Update (March 20, 2012).  Curt Rice gently pointed out my mistake to attribute the Nobel Peace Price to Sweden instead of Norway and left a link to an interesting post of his entitled "The Nobel Peace Prize's problem with women". 

Curt is the Pro Rector for Research & Development at the University of Tromsø and writes on gender equality at his website

Thank you kindly Curt.


curtrice said...

This was disappointing news, indeed. I was against this year's Nobel award, but for different reasons, and obviously didn't know enough about Sirleaf Johnson -- or maybe she hadn't said this before. I wrote about it in "The Nobel Peace Prize's problem with women" at .

Just as a minor point: the Peace Prize is awarded in Norway, not Sweden, and, yes, the laws here in Norway forbid discrimination against gays.

Ridwan said...

Curt Rice thank you for your comment and for catching my mistake.

I was reading elsewhere that both Norway and Sweden do not allow discrimination against gays.

It is troubling that Sirleaf Johnson is so blind to what she is doing - one would think at an elemental level she would understand that you cannot disentangle womens rights from gay/lesbian rights.

Or at the very least be sensitive not to condemn a whole section of people to systemic oppression.

Even if the majority of Liberians are anti-gay and she fears for her political life she should nonetheless stand above the rest and show pioneering leadership.

I am reminded of how Nelson Mandela joined the campaign to humanize the problem of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

He wore a purple tee shirt alongside other gay/lesbian and HIV/AIDS activists that proudly proclaimed "I am HIV Positive" - that was leadership.

Mandela showed courage and the stuff of principle to break the prejudiced silence that surrounded the victims of HIV/AIDS.

I also find it troubling that she uses the notion of homosexuality being "un-African".

This is a racist/essentialist notion for obvious reasons. How is she then different than Mugabe in Zimbabwe or Museveni in Uganda, among others?

Here in South Africa it is illegal to discriminate against gays/lesbians but it is hardly taboo to voice similar prejudices.

I am, however, not surprised that there has not been an uproar from her supporters in the US and elsewhere - well, they may just be shocked for right now.

I am going to link your post to mine under an update.

Thank you again for weighing in.

Peace to you.


eccentricyoruba said...

What disappointment me the most was her comment; 'We like ourselves just the way we are'. What is that supposed to mean? It is really sad the way the existence of LGBTIQ people in Africa, and in African history is constantly erased.

Ridwan said...

SLM eccentricyoruba:

I absolutely hear you my sista.

So you don't exist as an African unless you are straight?

What a stupid and discriminatory mindset Sirleaf Johnson has.

Thank you kindly for looking in - have a great weekend.



eccentricyoruba said...

It seems Johnson-Sirleaf has come out to "clarify" her views on homsexuality and the law in Liberia. Just thought I'd leave a link here.

It still rubs me the wrong way that they decided to mention "traditional values".