LGBT issue is a rather new phenomenon in Sierra Leone. This issue became a talking point some time after the decade long war in this country when the Dignity Association was formed in 2002, to campaign for LGBT rights. It is true that Sierra Leoneans use to hear about same-sex sexual activities in both sexes, with less attention given to female same-sex sexual activities. Male same-sex sexual activities were generally looked upon as an aberration, but not taken seriously. Almost everybody thought that men in same-sex relationships were bisexuals. It was only when gays and lesbians began to come out in the open and press for rights that the LGBT issue started to raise eyebrows. It was at this point that people began to realize that there are those whose sexual orientation is same-sex.
The general perception of same-sex relationships in Sierra Leone is that it is practiced by foreigners, especially by white people. And the black people in same sex sexual activities are not many. Most people were shocked when their fellow Sierra Leoneans wanted same-sex relationship recognition.
The LGBT issue became topical in 2004 when Fanny Ann Eddy, founder of Sierra Leone’s Lesbians and Gay Association was murdered. LGBT sympathizers’ claimed Ms: Eddy was killed because of her sexual orientation.
There is a law that criminalizes gay practice in this country. This law is section 61 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
A person or persons guilty under this Act can be sentenced to life imprisonment. This law, which was inherited from the British, is seldom (if ever) enforced. That this Act has not been expressly repealed pose a threat to LGBT rights. This Act states “Sodomy and bestiality: whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, crime committed either with mankind or with any animal shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for life.”
So far, there are no laws in this country protecting against LGBT discrimination. This implies that people in same-sex relationships are at the mercy of anti-LGBT`S.
Our cultural, traditional and religious practices frown at LGBT issues. This country’s two main religions, Christianity and Islam, discounts same-sex sexual activities.
Despite all these drawbacks on LGBT issues, gays and lesbians have made themselves heard. There is the Dignity Association for gay rights. Strides have also been made in the diplomatic circles. The US Ambassador, Michael Owen, has done his bit on behalf of the American government for LGBT rights. Sierra Leone has also hosted the global rights institute. There is also cooperation between LGBT organizations and this country’s National Aids Secretariat (NAS).
The truth about LGBT is that Sierra Leoneans are far behind on the road to LGBT rights. Talking openly about LGBT rights is still a taboo, let alone admitting that one is a gay, bisexual or lesbian. At present, persecution, molestation and provocation area what LGBT`S or their sympathizers face.