Nobel Peace Prize winner and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says gay sex should remain illegal: "We like ourselves just the way we are," she told the Guardian. "We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve." Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, visiting on a humanitarian mission, squirmed in his seat during the joint interview but refused to address the issue. "I'm not giving you an answer on it," said the longtime advocate of gay rights.
Sodomy laws are a hot topic in Liberia these days, where two new bills seek to increase the penalty for gay sex by up to 10 years in prison. But the nation's current law hasn't convicted anyone lately, and gays lived secret but generally safe lives until Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently linked foreign aid to gay rights. Now the rhetoric and anti-gay attacks are mounting. But Sirleaf isn't getting involved: "If she tried to decriminalize the law it would be political suicide," says a former Liberian official.