And for anyone who thinks that what the State Department said wasn’t very strong, you don’t understand how diplomacy usually works. This is quite strong language for the US government to be using about “one of its most favored world leaders,” as CBS referred to the leader of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
In an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Sirleaf was reported to have said, “We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.” On the law criminalizing homosexual acts, she said: “We like ourselves just the way we are.”
Administration officials have lauded Sirleaf as Africa’s first female leader, and Liberia has received hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid since emerging from civil war last decade. But her comments are providing an early test of President Barack Obama’s recent directive for officials to use foreign assistance and diplomacy to promote gay rights globally, even if the administration says it is not making foreign aid contingent on a nation’s record.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. stood by its policy of aggressively promoting gay rights. But asked about Sirleaf’s statements, just two months after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Liberia to attend Sirleaf’s second inauguration, Nuland said the U.S. would be inquiring with Liberian officials to “find out whether the reporting is accurate and express some surprise and concern.
More background on what Sirleaf said here, and funny that we still haven’t heard anything from Tony Blair, who refused to even comment on the matter while sitting right there.
And for those who say this is all about election years politics, that’s fine with me. They’re speaking up for our human rights, and that’s a good thing, period.