President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The Liberian Senate has unanimously passed a bill to ban same-sex marriage in the country, but it is unclear if President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will sign it.

The bill, if it become law, will amend the section of the Domestic Relations Law that currently bans marriage between close family members by adding the words “or persons of the same sex”.

This would make same-sex marriage a Second Degree Felony which could be punished with jail time or a fine.

The bill was introduced in February by Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, the former first lady and ex-wife of convicted war criminal and one time president Charles Taylor.

According to The New Dawn website, the Senate’s Chairman on Judiciary, Cllr. Joseph Nagbe issued a warning to gay and lesbian visitors to the country.

“If you are gay or lesbian and you having to come here we expect you to behave orderly. That is, stay away from each other until your departure”, he said.

The bill must still be signed into law by President Sirleaf. She, however, said in March that she would veto any law that attempted to change the status quo – either by legalising homosexuality or further criminalising it.

Her views have angered some politicians in Liberia, with those opposed to LGBTI equality calling for her to take a definitive stand on the issue.

While homosexuality is not specifically barred at present in Liberia, consensual sodomy between adults is illegal and carries penalties of up to three years in prison.

Another bill is making its way through the legislature that aims to specifically bar sex between members of the same sex.

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