Life for men who have sex with men (MSMs) in Sierra Leone
When I was 6years old a male cousin committed suicide. He drank caustic soda. Years later I found out that Pa Bundu’s suicide was related to a same sex love affair he had with another man who lived in Banana Water. Since then I’ve met several homosexual men in present day Freetown. Those in the middle and upper class tend to find more acceptance. While the poor tend to face more ridicule. My male cousins have told me of several incidents where effeminate homosexual men try to mingle with straight men in Freetown and get cursed out but never outrightly assaulted. Everyone knows that there are men and women in our society who prefer same sex relationships. But as a people we don’t want them to live out their sexual preferences in the open. Freetown society tells homosexuals that while we don’t like that you are gay we will tolerate you as long as you don’t try to change the law to accommodate your lifestyle.
There are two active gay rights groups in Sierra Leone. Hudson Tucker’s Dignity Association and West Africa Regional Office of Whycantwegetmarried.com run by George Freeman. Tucker was Pa Bundu’s lover. But he has since married and has kids. A recent study on MSMs in Sierra Leone found that most have concurrent female and male partners. For several years now both Tucker and Freeman have diligently catalogued the grievances against Men who have sex with Men in Sierra Leone. A gay party back in July was broken up by stones from neighbors.
Religious and political leaders spoke out against homosexuality earlier this month when British PM David Cameron said that the UK would stop giving aid to countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality. Today three gay rights activists who appeared on a radio program in Freetown talking about the need for the government to recognize gay rights as human rights faced harassment and homophobic backlash.
Do you think the government should recognize gay rights as human rights? Why or Why not?
*Any hateful comments will be deleted. This is a space for open discussion.