On the evening of June 15, 2021, BrewervilleCommunity residents had to come to the rescue of a Liberian gay man who was escaping from mob violence by the skin of his teeth due to homophobia.
“We were sitting at an intellectual Center playing checkers and discussing political issues when we saw this group young people carrying machetes furiously attacked Tom. So we ran there to rescue him otherwise he would have lost his life. It is concerning because they were about 15 persons. The young men said he is polluting the community with his bad sexual habit. So they wanted to get rid of him but he was lucky we observed their intention and went to his rescue,” Jallah Kolubah, a resident of the community narrated to this newspaper in an interview.
According to the victim Tom Boakai, he has been attracted to members of the same sex ever since his childhood. This, he said, drew ire from family, friends, schoolmates as well as workmates particularly being chide for his sexual preference from a Christian background.
“I have been receiving verbal threats for a long time before the incident occurred that nearly caused me my life. I have not intruded into anyone’s privacy with my sexual preference,” Tom Boakai stated.
He narrated that as a close-gay man, he has always remained in the closet and make his affairs confidential for personal safety reasons instead of going public given the condemnation of family, friends and the general public.
Explaining his ordeal to our reporter, Tom said that he regularly visited Brewerville, particularly the Molton Corner Community, he had to interact with people and community dwellers as well as make new friends. According to him, he eventually came across a 20-year old man identified as Prince who was also attracted to sexual partners of the same sex and they established a relationship and became very close.
“To the dismay of some community dwellers who were anti-homosexuals and had sighted Prince and I sharing intimacy: kissing, romancing or having sexon several
occasions in private in a bar bathroom or at my place, had started to issue threats as they considered our affair an abomination that would lead to the pollution of the minds of young people in the community to follow said lifestyle. Prince and decided to be more secretive,” he mentioned.
Tom, like many others in his situation, cried out that he is living under constant physical and psychological attacks. Before the June 15, 2021 near fatal incident, he has experienced repeated harassments and bullying from co-workers and bosses at work after he was seen at a local entertainment Center in Congo Town by one of his workmates sharing intimacy with his gay friend. Tom was allegedly photographed by this co-worker unknown to him and the image was taken to his workplace to fuel homophobic actions against him.
“This has resulted to a barrage of bullying and harassment at work causing tremendous psychological and emotional trauma for me. I attempted to take a leave of absence to escape the all of the insults and hate remarks at work, but as per my position as Assistant Director I’m required to always be at work as an essential staff. I am also afraid to officially file a complaint on the issue to the HR Division as doing so might be viewed as a confirmation,” the Liberian gay man indicated with his face downcast.
What makes the gay community in Liberia more hopelessly vulnerable is the fact that there are no pro-LGBTI domestic laws and policies in support of the protection and well-being of homosexuals. In fact, to compound the situation, the Liberia Penal Code of 1976 law, Articles 14.74, 14.79 and 50.7 criminalizeconsensual same-sex activity between consenting adults and considers it an act of “Voluntary Sodomy”a first degree misdemeanour with a penalty of up to one-year imprisonment.
Tom is seeking the intervention of the international community to find ways to ensure the safety of LGBTI community from inhumane conditions.
The youthful gay man is one of many same-sex people who are dying in silencing across Liberia because they chose sexual preferences the society deems abominable.