Post submitted by Bo Suh, HRC Digital Media Intern

Almost a third of the total deaths caused by Ebola in West Africa have happened in Liberia, prompting local religious leaders to declare that “God is angry” and blame “homosexualism” for the plague.

The epidemic plaguing West Africa has taken 255 lives in Liberia and the body count continues to grow. The disease has struck fear into the hearts of the people in Liberia, making some believe that the virus is a form of divine punishment. 

 “God is Angry with Liberia. Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness,” the Liberian Council of Churches said in a statement last week, according to the Daily Observer.  

Even President Ellen Johnson has expressed such religious convictions, according to Front Page Africa.

“I call on Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue to fight against the deadly Ebola virus,” she said.

LGBT people are widely discriminated against both socially and politically in Liberia, where “voluntary sodomy” is criminalized with up to one year in prison. This is not the first time Liberian officials have called LGBT people a threat; an MP claimed that a foreign government is plotting for LGBT people to take over the Liberian government in 2017. President Johnson defended the country’s anti-LGBT laws in 2012 and implied that LGBT people threaten Liberia’s “traditional values”.

Liberia is one of the 37 countries in Africa that criminalizes same-sex relationships, according to HRC and Human Rights First’s joint report on LGBT rights in Africa. The status of LGBT people in Africa is incredibly volatile, with some countries punishing same-sex activity with life imprisonment or the death penalty. Read the full report here

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