A radio talk show appearance featuring several LGBT activists in Sierra Leone has led to a "nasty, threatening, homophobic" backlash, reports LGBT Asylum News. At least three gay men were reportedly kicked out of their homes, and have received phone calls and text messages threatening violence.
WhyCantWeGetMarried.Com West Africa Regional Director George Reginald Freeman was invited for a radio discussion program on November 8 at Radio Democracy FM 98.1 [in] Freetown. During the interview, Freeman threw light on the Nigeria same gender bill. ... The program also invited Mr. Henry Sheku, Communication Officer of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone who said the HRCSL "is not working on LGBTI human rights, because the law of Sierra Leone does not give the Commission mandate to advocate and support LGBTI human rights."
After the radio program, Ephraim Bernard Wilson, Denzil Kargbo and George Reginald Freeman were kicked out of their family houses with harassment and homophobic statements by their family members. Bernard’s family said that homosexuality is not accepted in Christianity; Denzil’s friends said that because of moral values he needed to leave the house; and George’s family said that homosexuality is satanic and a taboo to African culture so he needed to leave.
After the program unknown individuals started to call us and left hatred comments and we were harassed and some even threaten us. At the moment, we are currently staying at the office behind closed doors with no moral and financial support from other organizations, friends and family members.
Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Sierra Leone. The punishment could be life imprisonment.
In July 2011, the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat of Sierra Leone published a ground-breaking study on men who have sex with men (MSM). The study found a 7.5 percent HIV prevalence, which is "more than five times" the national rate. The government reportedly is attempting to incorporate MSM into its national HIV/AIDS strategy—but that could be problematic since same-sex activity carries such harsh penalties.
Meanwhile: More than 50 LGBT activists from Sierra Leone, Cameroon, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and other African nations are completing a three-week long training in Stockholm The conference sponsored by the Swedish government and various NGOs trains the activists on how to lobby their governments on MSM and LGBT issues.
The Stockholm training is in advance of the MSM pre-conference and 5-day session of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2011) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The international conference will discuss MSM and LGBT issues at length. More than 10,000 people are expected ICASA 2011 which begins December 4.