Leroy Ponpon doesn’t know whether to lock himself in his flat in Monrovia because of the deadly Ebola virus, or because he is gay. Christian churches’ recent linking of the two have made life hell for him and hundreds of other gays. Ponpon, an LGBT campaigner in the Liberian capital, says gays have been harassed, physically attacked and a few have had their cars smashed by people blaming them for the hemorrhagic fever, after religious leaders in Liberia said Ebola was a punishment from God for homosexuality. “Since church ministers declared Ebola was a plague sent by God to punish sodomy in Liberia, the violence toward gays has escalated. They’re even asking for the death penalty. We’re living in fear,” Ponpon told the Thomson Reuters.
RELATED: LGBT rights are nonexistent in Liberia. The current maximum penalty for homosexual acts is one year in prison, which is relatively light compared to many African nations. In 2012 former Liberian First Lady Jewel Taylor, who is now a legislator, introduced a gay death penalty bill. Two weeks later 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf announced that she would not sign Taylor’s bill even after its maximum penalty was “watered down” to a mere ten years in prison. However Sirleaf continues to refuse to consider decriminalizing homosexuality in Liberia. Shortly after Sen. Jewel Taylor’s bill failed, local Christian leaders distributed flyers which declared, “We will get every gay person one by one. Let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon. We urge them to also begin saying the Lord’s Prayer.” Liberia is 85% Christian.
ALSO RELATED: Sen. Jewel Taylor’s ex-husband, former Liberian president Charles Taylor, is currently imprisoned at The Hague for crimes against humanity. In 2010 prosecutors in the case charged that Pat Robertson had lobbied
the George H.W. Bush administration on Taylor’s behalf in order to gain the
rights to gold mines controlled by Taylor’s war lords. During his trial Taylor
testified that Robertson had indeed been his main political
ally in the United States. According to pilots that worked for
Robertson’s Operation Blessings, planes that Robertson told 700 Club
viewers were ferrying Christian relief supplies to genocide victims in
Rwanda were in fact carrying mining equipment to Taylor’s gold operation in Liberia. Sen. Jewel Taylor has been banned from all international travel by the United Nations.