Monday, April 26, 2010

Malawi open up for homosexuality as police quiz conference organisers

By Nyasa Times Published: April 26, 2010

A conference opened on Monday in Liwonde Township on the inclusion of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBTs) in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The conference which has been organised by the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) together with Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) attracted delegates from civil society, law experts and faith leaders.

It was opened by CHRR board member retired judge Tujilane Chizumira who urged delegates to have understanding of LGBTs.

"Before we start condemning them we should first accept that these are our fathers, mothers, daughters and sons,” said Chizumila a former diplomat.

A law expert at the University of Malawi, Edge Kanyongolo said Malawi can have LGBT unless it is challenged in court.

CHRR executive director Undule Mwakasungura said it was important for the country to discuss LGBT issues considering that research has indicated that Malawi has a growing number of homosexuals.

Mwakasungura said statistics showed that HIV and Aids prevalence among gays was high.

The issue of homosexuality was exposed in Malawi following the arrest of gay couple, 26-year-old Steven Monjeza and 20-year-old Tiwonge Chimbalanga after they had a marriage ceremony in December.

The pair could face up to 14 years in jail, in line with the country’s strict laws on homosexuality.

They have been in custody for almost four months, having twice been denied bail, and have pleaded not guilty to charges of sodomy and indecency.

Speaking for the first time, President Bingu wa Mutharika on Saturday condemned acts of homosexuality saying it is a strange act in Malawi.

"Malawians are even aping cultures they do not understand. They are saying a man should marry a fellow man. This is evil and bad before the eyes of God. There are certain things we Malawians just do not do," President Mutharika said.

He said the country was being haunted by several ills, among them domestic violence, child abuse, cutting and selling of private parts.

The president has since urged the clergy to help the country by praying hard, so that God rids the country of these ills.

The comments also cast a long shadow over the chances of Chimbalanga and Monjeza getting a fair trial.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times learnt that security force interrogated organiser of the conference on where they have got the funding and what they want to achieve.

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Source: Malawi news | NyasaTimes breaking online news source from Malaw


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