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From PRI: US Policy Sparks Anti-Gay Attacks in Liberia

Thanks to Rebecca Littman for passing on this story from PRI, which argues that U.S. statements identifying treatment of gays as a human rights concern have been associated with trumped up anti-gay rhetoric in the country.

Not surprisingly, false rumors have fueled frustrations:

Much of the recent debate here is rooted in misinformation about the Obama policy. Liberia receives more than $200 million a year from the U.S., and the Liberian media have repeatedly reported – incorrectly — that the Obama policy makes American foreign aid contingent on advancing gay rights. One newspaper headline declared: “‘No Gay Law, No Help,’ Obama threatens African Leaders.”

Some interviewed for the story have suggested that the backlash from the policy has actually led to increased threats to the security and dignity of gays in that country. I’d need to see a lot more evidence before I was convinced that the American statements have actually had a negative impact — could well be that there is simply more awareness and reporting of the problem, and a focus on a few visible events. Nonetheless, disheartening to think that this might be a real possibility.

About Evan Lieberman

I am a Professor of Political Science at MIT, and I conduct research, write, and teach about development, ethnic politics, and research methods.

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