World LGBT Briefs: Women on the Verge

Liberian President Sirleaf says she won't allow gay bills -- pro or con -- despite legislative push, and Russia's Pussy Riot punk rockers get trial date

Compiled by Kelsey Brannan
Published on July 26, 2012, 5:38am | Comments

Liberian Legislature Takes Up Anti-Gay Bills 

While the Liberian House of Representatives considers a bill to make sex between people of the same gender a first-degree felony, the country's Senate on July 20 voted unanimously to ban same-sex marriage, according to Agence France-Presse.

The ex-wife of former President Charles Taylor, Sen. Jewell Taylor, introduced the marriage ban. Notably, Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50-years imprisonment by a United Nations-backed tribunal in May for war crimes and crimes against humanity, as reported by The Guardian.

AFP reports, however, that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, has pledged to vow any legislation that attempts the change the countries laws – either progressively or regressively – with regard to gay people.

''We're going to maintain our traditional values,'' Sirleaf said when pressed on the issue in March by The Guardian.

Pussy Riot Trial Set To Begin July 30

At a July 23 preliminary hearing, a Moscow court set a July 30 trail date for members of the punk band Pussy Riot, according to Reuters. The three women have been held since March on charges of ''hooliganism'' after the band briefly took over the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral Feb. 21 to perform the band's song ''Punk-Prayer 'Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away.''

While the band's protest songs are fiercely critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's Orthodox Church, some lyrics are pro-LGBT and pro-feminist, as with the song performed at the cathedral. It contains the line, ''Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains.''

Amnesty International released a statement July 20 calling for the release of the three band members, Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonninkova.

''Amnesty International considers the activists to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs,'' the Amnesty release reads. It also quoted John Dalhuisen, AI's Europe and Central Asia program director.

''These three activists have now been behind bars for months, awaiting a trial that should not be taking place,'' he said.