Liberia Endorses Sexuality Rights at Democracy Summit in Zambia

Zambia-March 30, 2023)Through its Representative, Foreign Affairs Minister, D. Maxwell Kemeyah, Liberia endorsed all 17 counts contained in a communique at the Democracy Summit to uphold the respect for human rights, democracy, and rule of law among others.

At the summit, Liberia, as a country, did not object and or disassociates itself from any of the counts as demonstrated by other countries.

All 76 Countries including Liberia in the communique agreed “to promote respect for human rights and equality for all individuals and combat all forms of discrimination and exclusion on any grounds, consistent with international human rights law, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, color, religion or belief, national or social origin, property, birth, indigeneity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, pregnancy, political opinion, class, genetic information, or age, and promote inclusion and the full and equal participation of all individuals in marginalized or vulnerable situations, including internally displaced persons.”

By this communiqué, LIberia is bind to protect the rights of all LGBTQ persons which falls within the scope of the umbrella word ‘sexual orientation’ within the communique.

The two-day second Summit for Democracy was organized by the US and co-hosted by Zambia along with South Korea, Costa Rica and Netherlands.

Out of the seven African countries that attended the Democracy Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, the likes of Liberia, Mauritius, Botswana, Senegal and Niger endorsed Count-Eight of the Communique, while the likes of Zambia, Mauritania and Malawi dissociated with certain paragraphs, citing their cultural values and beliefs.

The signature of Liberia’s Foreign Minister to all counts of the communiqué of the Democracy Summit in Zambia, suggested a sharp contradiction to the Penal Law, Volume IV, Title 26, Liberian Code of Laws Revised Approved in 1976 and Published in 1978 section 14.72, 74,73,79, 50.7) which has been a breeding ground for discrimination against LGBTQ persons in Liberia.

Penal Law, Volume IV, Title 26, LIberia revised Section 14.74-Voluntary sodomy states a person who engages in deviate sexual intercourse under circumstance not stated in Section 14.72 (aggravated involuntary sodomy) or 14.73 (involuntary sodomy) and has committed a first degree misdemeanor.
Sections 14.74, 14.79 and 50.7 consider “voluntary sodomy” as a first degree misdemeanor, with a penalty of up to one year imprisonment, with sodomy being defined as “deviate sexual intercourse” between human beings who are not (living as) husband and wife, that consists of contact between penis and anus, mouth and penis, or mouth and vulva.

On 30 November 2016, it was reported that the proposed legislation to penalize any person who “seduces, encourages, or promotes another person of the same gender to engage into sexual activities” failed to pass into law.

On 19 July 2012, the Senate reportedly passed legislation that would penalize any person who “seduces, encourages, or promotes another person of the same gender to engage into sexual activities.” The proposed law also prohibits same-sex marriage.

Additionally, On 10 April 2012, former President of Liberia, Nobel-laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, vowed to veto any legislation that would criminalise homosexual behaviour in the country, despite having defended the law during a joint interview with Tony Blair.

However, it is not still clear whether the executive under President George Weah will suggest a change of the New Penal Code that projects discrimination against minority groups based on Liberia’s agreement through its signature to upholding human rights by sexual orientation at the March 2023 Democracy Summit.

Sources close to the Legislature have hinted that an anti-LGBT bill is expected to hit the floor of the House for passage.

Meanwhile, Countries represented at the Summit for Democracy in Zambia also recognized that democracies that respect human rights are the best means by which to solve the 21st Century’s most critical challenges. “We remain united in supporting one another in our efforts to bolster democracy domestically, regionally, and internationally, combat authoritarian trends, advance multilateral and multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation, and safeguard the full and effective exercise of human rights, including civil and political rights, as well as the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights. We are determined to save the present and succeeding generations from the scourge of war. To this end we unite the strength of our democracies to secure and maintain domestic, regional and international peace and security.”

The 76 countries through their leaders and representatives who assembled in Zambia on March 29 agreed in the Communique that democracy is necessary to ensure that every voice is heard, that the human rights of all are respected, protected, and fulfilled, online and offline, and that the rule of law is upheld. “We recognize that democracy can take many forms, but shares common characteristics, including free and fair elections that are inclusive and accessible; separation of powers; checks and balances; peaceful transitions of power; an independent media and safety of journalists; transparency; access to information; accountability; inclusion; gender equality; civic participation; equal protection of the law; and respect for human rights, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. To meet the rising challenges to democracy worldwide, we commit to strengthen democratic institutions and processes and build resilience.”

In the signed Communique, they further stated that they acknowledge that freedom and democracy are strengthened through cooperation, and they have committed to building stronger domestic, regional, and global partnerships that are more assertive in countering authoritarianism and corruption and that demonstrate that democracy delivers peace, stability, and prosperity for all. “We believe democratic institutions, which take time and concerted effort to develop, are best supported by an inclusive society that respects diversity, promotes decent work for all, and enables everyone to freely pursue their aspirations, exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and live without fear of violence and threats to their safety.”

The signed communique added, that globally, the participating countries at the Summit for Democracy held in Lusaka, Zambia, have committed to put the strength of their democracies into action to revitalize, consolidate, and strengthen an international rules-based order that delivers equitable, sustainable development for all people and to deepen international cooperation to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “We acknowledge that eradicating poverty is critical to strengthening inclusivity and building confidence and stability in democracies globally.”

The 17-count communique reiterates the countries firm resolve to support countries and people around the world that adhere to the values of freedom and democracy, against direct or indirect attempts or threats to undermine them. They also recognize the fundamental principles of the UN Charter that all states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means.

Those countries that disagree to Count-Eight were, India*, Armenia*, Iraq*, Israel*, Paraguay*, Philippines*, Bulgaria*, Poland*, Malawi*,Dominican Republic*, Mauritania*, Mexico*, and Zambia*.

Countries that denote the endorsement with reservations or disassociation from the text of the following paragraphs of the Declaration:
Preambular Paragraph 1: Poland; Preambular Paragraph 3: Armenia, India, Mexico; Operative Paragraph 4: India, Israel, Philippines; Operative Paragraph 8: Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Iraq, Mauritania, Paraguay, Poland, Zambia; Operative Paragraph 9: Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Poland; Operative Paragraph 13: India; and Operative Paragraph 17: Malawi.

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