Sirleaf promises to veto criminalisation of gays By TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW in Dakar and BABOUCARR CEESAY in Banjul | Wednesday, April 11   2012 at  16:59

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Monrovia in January 2012 when Mrs Clinton came to attend Sirleaf's second presidential inauguration. AFP | AFRICA REVIEW 

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has vowed to veto any legislation criminalising homosexuality in the country.

In a statement on Tuesday, President Sirleaf asserted that there were no anti-homosexuality laws in Liberia, even though religious and cultural beliefs condemned "certain sexual practices".

But she insisted that she would not condone discrimination against any group, or impose her personal beliefs on the population.

The Liberian President said henceforth, she would allow the democratic process to take its course and let Liberians discuss issues in an atmosphere of freedom.

“I will never condone discrimination against any group,’’ she said, adding that she reserved her constitutional right to block what she called “extremist legislation” intended to marginalise a particular group on account of their sexual orientation or practices.

The President’s turnaround came after the US Government raised concern over an anti-gay interview she allegedly gave to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The newspaper quoted the President as saying that she would support pending legislation against same sex relationships.

Both the US and Britain were currently pursuing a pro-gay campaign in Africa, which had received the backing of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon.

Pleaded not guilty

Meanwhile, 18 men have been arraigned before Gambia's Kanifing Magistrate's Court and charged with indecent practice among themselves.

The suspects were identified as 16 Gambians, one Nigerian and a Senegalese.

Particulars of offence stated that on April 5, 2012 at Serrekunda and in diverse places, the 18 were engaged in an indecent practice among themselves at a public place, thereby committed an offence contrary to the Laws of The Gambia.

The men before Principal Magistrate Sheriff Tabally on April 10 were Mr Alieu Sarr, Mr Kebba Ceesay, Mr Abdoulie Bojang, Mr Amadou Jallow, Mr Ogika Amenechi, Mr Amadou Nyang, Mr Ousman Gomez, Mr Sainey Fatty, Mr Lamin Konateh, Mr Lamin Sarr, Mr Buba Banda, Mr Ebrima Jallow, Mr Lamin Saho, Mr Abdoulie Cham, Mr Ousman Dibba, Mr Lamin Jaiteh, Mr Abdoulie Saidy and Mr Muhammed Manneh.

All the accused pleaded not guilty.

They were denied bail when the prosecutor objected to their application.

The prosecutor made the application on grounds that the matter was still under investigation.

The court ordered the remanding of the accused persons at the Mile 2 Central Prisons.