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Liberia considers tougher antigay law

MONROVIA, Liberia - Liberia's Senate was expected to consider a bill yesterday to strengthen the nation's existing antigay laws, a senator said, as another West African nation, Cameroon, announced the arrest of 10 women suspected of being lesbians.

Consensual homosexual intercourse is considered criminal in Cameroon and punishable by a jail sentence from six months to five years and a fine.

In Liberia, a former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill last week that would prohibit same-sex marriage and make homosexuality a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"We are only strengthening the existing law,'' she said. The current law considers gay relationships a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in prison.

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If passed by the Senate, the strengthened bill would go to the House and then the president.

But President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said she will not sign any such bill into law.