In a joint interview for the Guardian, Blair and Sirleaf both refused to comment further after Sirleaf’s comments.
A Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Sirleaf said that she would not change a law that criminalises homosexual acts, saying “We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we like to preserve… We like ourselves just the way we are.”
Blair is currently on a visit to Liberia in his new capacity as the founder of the African Governance Initiative (AGI), a charity aimed at strengthening African governments. Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world.
When given the opportunity, the former prime minister refused to answer a question of whether good governance and human rights go hand in hand, simply saying “One of advantages of doing what I do now is that I can choose the issues I get into and the issues that I don’t… You know how long I’ve been doing these types of interview. I’m not giving an answer on it.”
A former outspoken advocate of gay rights, during his term in office, Blair brought in civil partnerships, lowered the age of consent for gay people to 16 and even advised the Vatican to take a fresh view on homosexuality.
Tiawan S Gongloe, the country’s former solicitor general, told the Guardian the country was still not ready for a debate on gay rights. “Liberians need public education on the issue. Our society is not at that point yet to have a civil conversation on the issue.”