Malawian faith-based organisation, ‘The Faith in Love Project’ has fervently launched an unprecedented defence of gay rights for Malawians saying that no one has the right to judge others, discriminate, hate, ostracise or punish anybody because of who they choose to be or who they choose to love.
Director of the UK-based religious charity, Faith in Love Project, Evangelist Elizabeth Kalonga has faulted all people including some faith leaders and politicians in the country for what she describes as ‘stinking homophobic’ attitude towards Gays and Lesbians in Malawi.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, the Luton based outspoken preacher, HIV/AIDS advocate and human rights campaigner, Evangelist Kalonga blatantly confronts tens of thousands Malawians with her ‘unequivocal’ views on Gays and Lesbians with open defiance.
“Gay rights are human rights and all the people, gay or straight, are equal before the law and all are God’s children. People mustn’t be punished for being what they are. God’s greatest commandment is love. There’s no commandment that says that ‘thou shall you not be gay.”
“We at Faith in Love Project believe in the same right and reason that obliges us to speak out against the persecution of the vulnerable minorities because it is the right thing to do. We must understand that the human race has progressed considerably in the intervening centuries,” hinted Evangelist Kalonga.
“Malawi is a democratic country and a secular society and therefore it means that people are free to exercise their rights and freedoms without frontiers or restrictions. Democracy is for everyone and equality is not an aspect of culture, it is a principle, and a very basic one at that. If being gay is a sin then let God punish them,” added a visibly charged Evangelist Kalonga.
Never before a Malawian religious leader, let alone female Pastor has challenged Malawians to face reality that Malawi is a democratic country and a signatory to the UN universal charter of Human Rights which promotes and protects minority rights and therefore for people to defend others peoples’ rights regardless of their gender, sex, race, ethnicity, colour, creed and religious beliefs.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Malawi and a Nyasa Times random and impromptu survey carried in all the three regions of Malawi show that one out of ten people find same sex disgusting, offensive and unacceptable.
But Evangelist Kalonga says she is personalising the issue by comparing homophobia to racial discrimination that Malawians encountered during the colonial era in which Malawians were not free in their own country.
Kalonga said Malawi is currently facing an avalanche of problems but emphasized that gays and lesbians aren’t one of them saying that the Southern African country is seriously rolling in the deep because of corruption, abuse of power and theft of public resources.
“We have so many problems which as a country needs our attention. Two adults, whether of same sex or different, having consensual sex mustn’t be anybody’s business. We, at Faith in Love Project, do not subscribe to same sex or acts of sodomy but we respect the fact that people have the right to choose who they want to love,” emphasized pastor Kalonga.
She continued: “advancing hatred on gay people in Malawi won’t drive gayness away. What it will do is but force more people to live double lives and create the kind of social conditions that will continue to fuel deceit and spread the HIV/AIDS.”
Evangelist Kalonga said that there are a lot of fluff pieces of opinion about homosexuality in Malawi at the moment, however those opinions does not conform to the law and the issue of constitutional protection.
“Many people are blaming the west or Europeans for acts of ‘gay-ism’ in Malawi and always describe same sex as a Whiteman’s culture and that is very unfortunate. What these people do not point out is that the British era of anti-gay laws have been made unconstitutional, though unchallenged, by the Malawi 1994 constitution,” she explained.
“Homosexuality or sodomy in the Malawi Constitution is highly likely to be merely covered by the term ‘sex’ and other status of article 20 and it is very vague as it is classified as unnatural sex and that include bestiality (having sex with animals) and or oral sex, she said before quoting Constitution of the Republic of Malawi chapter 4, equality 20 of 1994.
“Discrimination of person in any form is prohibited and all persons are under the law guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, ‘sex,’ language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnicity, nationality or social origin, disability property, birth or ‘other status.’
Kalonga said it disheartening that other people justify their discrimination against gays and lesbians by using some verses from the Holy Bible but at the same time ignoring the fact that the Bible teaches about love.
“It is sad that some people use the bible to advance their homophobic agendas against those they perceive to be of different sexual orientation. God is love and if look closely you will see that the New Testament does not include homophobic passages in it,” said Evangelist Kalonga.
She said it is wrong for faith leaders to label gays and lesbians or anybody as ‘horrible sinners’ because no human being whether is a pastor, evangelist, apostle, bishop or prophet has the authority and spiritual mandate to condemn or judge people, that is for God not a man or woman.
“It is sickening that there are some religious nut-jobs who think it is OK to persecute people because of their sexual orientation and the choices about their lives,” she said adding; “Some of these religious beliefs that gays are ‘horrible sinners’ are a direct result of spiritual fanatical retardation.”
Pastor Kalonga further explained that there is no difference in principal between discriminating against LGBT people and discriminating against people based on gender, race, colour or religion for in both cases, the mistreatment brings about not change in behaviour of the victim, because it is part of their essence.
“Similarly, Malawian homophones may enjoy posturing over sexuality but after their 14 years of jail, the gays will still be gay. And to say that gay practice is a western culture or a Whiteman’s influence is just a blatant falsehood.”
“Homosexuality has always existed in Africa and always will despite the neo-Nazi like attempts by some people to exterminate it,” said Pastor Kalonga who recently was invited to House of Lords of the British parliament through Terrence Higgins Trust where she addressed members of Parliament of HIV/AIDS and the social quandary gays and Lesbians through as regards to the pandemic.
Kalonga said her organisation strongly agrees with the views of the head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis whose views are that gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society.
Pope Francis recently reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not when he was responding to questions from Journalists about whether there was a “gay lobby” in the Vatican.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” declared Pope Francis.
Kalonga also stated she subscribes to American President Barack Obama’s explicit and unambiguous views on gay rights and homosexuality.
She quotes Obama: “When you start treating people differently, because they are different that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen. When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread.”
Nyasa Times research indicates that homosexuality is present in all human cultures – approximately one to two percent of all populations are gay and interestingly, homosexuality has been observed in great many vertebrate species, it is not something uniquely human.
However, it is correct and fair to say that it is a major taboo in almost all cultures.
Social commentator and Journalist Deguzman Kaminjolo posting on social media on the matter expressed dismay over some people’s action who act with a holier than thou attitude saying he is saddened by the high levels of people’s hypocrisy on gays and homosexuality.
“I am dismayed by the constant hypocrisy when it comes to issues of homosexuals. Let them be. Most of you rush to the bible, especially the book of Leviticus to justify your unreasonable hatred for people who mean you no harm.”
“Before you cast the first stone, read, assess yourself and see if you pass standards prescribed in the book of Leviticus alongside that famous homosexual verse you love to quote,” complained the Kaminjolo, a cartoonist and a former columnist for the country’s oldest newspaper, Malawi News.
“Leviticus 20:10: ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbour–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.’ How many of you are haven’t slept with other peoples wives or husbands?” asked KaminjoloFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :