Malawi referendum on gay rights does not make sense

In the first place, let me make it clear that I am not a human rights activist, and I do not advocate for gay rights, on the contrary, I just love to analyze and share my opinions on every issue that serves the interests of Malawians.

Gay pride parades expected in Malawi

Gay pride parades expected in Malawi

Second, my arguments are not based on the Bible or the Qur’an, neither do they reflect my religious views. This is purely a political opinion. Therefore, please restrict your understanding to ideals of democracy and human rights alone.

Now, a couple of days ago, President Mutharika responded to the question on the decriminalization of homosexuality in Malawi by reminding the nation that should a time come to consider the legalization of gay rights, Malawians will have to decide through a referendum.

Earlier in 2012, president Joyce Banda urged Parliament to repeal anti-sodomy laws and later in 2013 she suspended laws that criminalize homosexuality through her Minister of Justice, Ralph Kasambara. And between 2010 and 2012, President Bingu wa Mutharika simply said no!! to homosexuality. He punished homosexuals with the maximum penalty and even referred to homosexuality as disgusting (zonyansa) satanic (zausatana) and nonsense (zauchitsiru).

The point here is that Bingu and Joyce Banda, just like nearly all Presidents in Africa, made clear what their position was on the matter. They were either clearly in favour of gay rights or clearly against the issue.

But Peter Mutharika prefers a referendum on the matter for obvious political reasons not because he believes it’s the right option. He knows very well what happened to his brother the moment he took a strong stance against gay rights. Bingu’s open defiance against the legalization of gay rights in 2010 was one of the very first issues that pushed him into an unexpected fight with the donors and the beginning of his fall. Joyce Banda too, knew very well that the issue of gay rights had brought down her predecessor’s government, and in order to avoid a fight with the unbeatable donors, she took a clear stand in support of gay rights.

Just like Banda before him, Mutharika is trying to escape a confrontation with donors by refusing to take responsibility over the matter. But unlike Banda who was ready to wrestle with Malawians by pushing the matter to Parliament, Mutharika does not wish to confront Malawians either. So the referendum grants him a comfort zones where he can relax and let Malawians fight his battle knowing that neither donors nor Malawians will hold him responsible and answerable to the outcome.

Unfortunately, I am 100 percent sure that as a Western trained, professor and practicing lawyer with outstanding repute in the international legal fraternity, Mutharika is very much aware that a referendum stands against the very principle of what ought to be an issue of universal human rights. I strongly believe that gay rights are human rights. I know I am hitting a raw nerve here.

You see, we Africans are the funniest people God ever created; we buy into everything the West recommends for us without counting the cost. Things like Capitalism, Democracy, the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) e.t.c, are issues that African governments are without coercion members of, and yet when it comes to paying the price we fall short and begin to blame the West for the same.

For example, according to Article 55(c) of the UN Charter, on the principle of equal rights, the UN pledges “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” And then on Article 56, “All members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action in co-operation with the Organization for the achievement of the purposes set forth in Article 55.” This means that Malawi which signed the Charter on December 1, 1964 through Kamuzu Banda, has an obligation to comply with the UN or to individually advance the preservation of human rights for all humans.

And according to the principles of human rights as set forth in the United Nations’s UDHR of 1948, a referendum cannot settle a matter of gay rights. Please understand me, I am saying gay rights, and not gay marriage because these are two different things. Gay rights are about the freedom of gays to fall in love, engage in sexual acts, and express themselves publicly without being discriminated against or facing prohibition by the law and this redefines sex, while gay marriage refers to the freedom of gays to wed each other into a legal marriage of husband and wife just like homosexuals do, and this redefines marriage. Anyway, this is beyond the scope of this article.

So what are human rights exactly, and why are gay rights human rights? Most Malawians and Africans know what their rights are, but they don’t know exactly why those rights are human rights and what makes them human rights. In short, human rights are freedoms that humans are entitled to by the virtue of being human. In other words, from the day a human is born, and so long as they have life in them, they are entitled to some freedoms of human rights.

These freedoms first and foremost seek to preserve the dignity and equality of all humans regardless of their gender, skin color, race, religion, or any other status. And since these so called human rights are acquired the moment a child draws in the first breath, they are inherent and the UDHR declares that they are inalienable.

Because human rights are innate, inherent and inalienable, government does not have the power to take them away, because it does not confer them in the first place. The only responsibility of government is to guarantee the preservation of the rights by creating a favorable political and legal framework and this is the utmost objective of a democracy.

Now after understanding what human rights are, do you now understand that gay rights are human rights? To decide if gay rights are human rights, we must first decide if gays are humans or not. Second, we must confirm that gays are naturally born gay or prove that they are not born gay. Third, we must determine that being gay is a sexual orientation or not. And fourth, we must prove that consensual gay relationships do infringe the rights of others, and that such relations are a threat to the security or order of our society.

If you ask me, I will tell you that, gays are not half human, and therefore, they must be accepted as humans. I am not sure that they are born gay or that they are nurtured that way, but since I cannot prove otherwise, then I accept that they are born gay. And if they are born gay, then being gay is a sexual orientation. I also do not believe that a consensual gay relationship between adults pose any threat to any society, neither does it infringe the rights of others, especially if a society is well informed and civilized.

So here, let me summarize the issue for you. Gay rights are human rights because gays themselves are human beings and that unless proven otherwise, being gay is a sexual orientation. Gays have rights because nobody gives them the rights, but because they are born with the rights. Therefore, illegalization of gay rights is discrimination based on sex, and an abuse of human rights.

Now that gay rights are politically and democratically and universally human rights, then a referendum is definitely not the correct procedure to legalize or illegalize them. The reason is that under no circumstance must the rights of a minority group be subjected to a majority vote. Actually, since human rights are inalienable, then never must they be subjected to a vote of any kind, because by such an action, they may be rendered alienable.

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27 thoughts on “Malawi referendum on gay rights does not make sense”

  1. BEXTRA says:

    Kill them all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. mapapaya says:

    Nonse ma gay gate munayenera kukabadwira kwina osati ku Malawi. anthu akuba inu ,aulesi. Mwayamba kuchuluka eti?

  3. George says:

    Kodi phindu la nkhani yonseyi liri pati? Ndikuona ngati onse omwe mukulimbikitsa zimenezi mwachita misala mukufunika ku mental kukalandira mankhwala.

  4. Basikolp says:

    Sibande, go to hell ndi nyasi zakozo! Ungofuna kudya ndalama Zambia azungu ofuna kuwononga malawi. Sitilolola tikuphani

  5. Shakie says:

    Aa Lyson, yo so unreasonable really wat yo saying z earth related. Yu cal gay human Rights? in meds dats madness. Yu cudnt b there thnkn shit if yo father ws a gay.. Education? Hahaha yu are a fool in flush toilet. Ukooo!!! wandinyasa bwanji, jst for moneeey.. Civilisation makhololo nyekweeee

  6. Achikulire says:

    Guyz tingopanga zoti amene apeze anthu awa mmakwalala mu mungowachinda kumatako kwawoko tione ngati atanve kukoma!!!!!!! Gift trapence, Timothy ntambo, Lyson sibande ndi ena amene mukuwadziwa

  7. Jamesmtonga says:

    At first God created Adam and Eva i never heard that God created adam and adam.

  8. Joseph says:

    Well,,,,, being unable to prove something does not automatically make that thing true now, does it? That is just silly thinking!
    So what the author is telling us is,,,, if you are unable to work out a mathematical problem, then that sum does not exist? Or it’s wrong? Not even APM thinks that low. Not everything in life is black or white… What about grey? What about neither? The fact that the author can’t prove that gays are NOT born gay does not automatically mean they are born gay. That’s just childish logic! I can’t even believe he found space in a newspaper to publish such thinking. But then again, it’s Malawi, we cherish mediocrity!!!

  9. Joseph says:

    Well,,,,, being unable to prove something does not automatically make that thing true now, does it? That is just silly thinking!
    So what the author is telling us is,,,, if you are unable to work out a mathematical problem, then that sum does not exist? Or it’s wrong? Not even APM thinks that low. Not everything in life is black or white… What about grey? What about neither? The fact that the author can’t prove that gays are NOT born gay does not automatically mean they are born gay. That’s just childish logic! I can’t even believe he found space in a newspaper for such thinking. But then again, it’s Malawi, we cherish mediocrity!!!

  10. Thitherward 'wendo says:

    What a waste of money a referendum would be! At least 95% would be against gay rights.

    My own feeling is that deviant sexual behavior is offensive and should remain an offense under the law. However, I think that the penalties should be greatly reduced, to reflect the fact that such deviation is to a great extent self-punishing. Overt deviant behavior degrades our social environment and sanctions are necessary to discourage this. Let us at least keep such behavior off the streets where it can frighten our children, excite our dogs, and put our chickens off laying.

  11. Thanduxolo says:

    Ndalama ndi satana. Amene akulimbikitsa izi ndi anthu oti mmanja mwawo mmofunda. Mnzanga ankachita internship ku nyuzipepala ina mdziko ndipo ankakhala ku Lilongwe. Tsiku lina adayitanidwa ku msonkhano womwe lidakonza ndi bungwe lolimbikitsa maukwati aamuna kapena akazi okhaokha. Bungweli liri ku Area 47 Sector 3. Msonkhano udatenga maola atatu (3 hours). Itakwana nthawi yamtikito adapatsidwa envelope. Chongotsekula adapezamo MK70,000.00. Ndalamazi adadya ndipo nkhani adakalemba. Kwa amene amapeleka thadizo loteroli Mulungu akuoneni ndithu. Mavuto ali mu Africa as a whole komanso Malawi in particular si oti anthu onyengana mmatako akulephera kunyengana! Ayi. Ena mwamavuto akutisautsa ife ndi HIV/AIDS, umphawi, njala, kusowa ntchito,kusowa madzi aukhondo, misewu yabwino ndi zina zotero. Onse amene akulimbikitsa za mathanyula ndi zoterozo akudziwa. Koma poti dziko ili tadzadzamo uchitsiru ndi dyera nchifukwa chake anthu kapena mabungwe akulandira kunja nkumadzalimbikitsa zinthu zazii kuno kwathu. Apo bii muno mubuka zoopsa.

  12. Reach out ministries says:

    Legalize Homosexuality is Abomination
    Wake up Christians!!!
    Civil rights is one thing, sinful rights is another. The homosexual activist movement and organized pedophiles are linked together by a common goal: To gain access to Christians for seduction into homosexuality.
    Homosexuality is an abomination according to the Bible (Leviticus 20:13). An abomination is a sin that disgusts God. Sin is the violation of God’s commandments. Romans chapter one goes into depth explaining the progression of wickedness that leads to a homosexual lifestyle. Homosexuality goes contrary to nature as well as the Word of God.
    No one is born gay, because God doesn’t make mistakes. If someone were born gay, then God failed to give them the ability to reproduce and have children as such. That would mean that God is imperfect. That is not the case at all. God didn’t make any mistakes. It is man’s evil heart that causes him to behave like animals. God has created mankind upright; but sin has destroyed humanity.
    The word “gay” and the rainbow symbol have been stolen by the homosexual community to represent their sinful agenda. The only truly “gay marriage” is between one man and one woman, the way God intended for it to be. The Bible calls homosexuals “Sodomites.” This word carries the implication of judgment with it, for God destroyed Sodom for their wickedness, which included homosexuality (Genesis 19:1-13). Thus, it should not come as a surprise that all modern corruptions of the Bible have completely removed the word “sodomite” from the Scriptures. This is evil (Romans 1:25).
    The rainbow is a token of God’s promise never to destroy the earth by flood. And moreover, that God keeps all His promises. Homosexuals should fear misrepresenting the purpose for which God gave the rainbow to us. The very symbol which they cherish will be their undoing, for God has promised to punish the wicked in Hell (Psalm 9:17).
    You cannot call yourself a Christian and be a supporter of Same Sex Marriages. It is against the word of God to support any homosexual agenda. The bible says it is sin period.
    Leviticus 18:22
    22 “`Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
    Leviticus 20:13. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
    10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Romans 1:25-27
    25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator– who is forever praised. Amen.
    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
    27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
    Genesis 19:1-29 says God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality. It stinks in the nostrils of God. Genesis 13:13 identify the men of Sodom as exceedingly wicked sinners. Genesis 18:20 says that the sin of Sodom is “very grievous.” Genesis 18:23 adds emphasis to the portrayal of the inhabitants of Sodom as “wicked.” Genesis 18:24-33 shows that God could not find even 10 righteous souls in Sodom. The perverts who inhabited Sodom, even wanted to rape God’s Angels who had come to Sodom to rescue Lot.
    It is clear. The same sex marriage agenda is against God, and is SIN,

  13. President osatenga matchona Ai so anthu away they are animals kumene analiko zau geyi kwawiwowa sivuto Ai ationongera ana anthu away samalani nawo

  14. chijinu says:

    The only way to go is referendum, A chamba ife mmatimanga koma nafenso, ndi ufulu wanthu kusuta, Mukukhala busy ndi zinthu zosaziwika bwino ngati zimenezi.legalize chamba apa, chifukwa ukankhalA pa high(THC) sungafune kugona mwamuna mzako or vice versa, a satana awa mwatani kodi? Ana akamandifunsa…. Kodi homosexual ndi chani? I fail to answer. Hey!!! U babylon with your foreighn gods, shame Africans kufera machimo a eni, anu auphawi akukukanikani.

  15. Big papa says:

    apa zungu asamatipepelese ndimaganizo ake opusawa.Osangoti bola ndi nzungu alindizeru, 51yrs indipendent cpano.

  16. Mwanga1 says:

    Mr Sibande you are a sophiscicated fool! God did not create Adam and steve neither Mary and Jane but Adam and Eve. There is nothing tangible that UN has done since its formation. There have been more human rights abuses under the watch of the UN. Rights are inherite from God and not from UN period!

  17. mkwapukwapu mwadyetsa says:

    If we have something to say lets say it now than reading the paper and through it away like a trash. By the way, even though few people deffending this gay thing, but for me and even mr president himself if he is reading your comments it is perfectly clear that majority are dis agree with this nasty thing called gay or lesibian. I am very poor myself but I cant allow poverty to astray me by defying Almighty God just because of dime? If God created our nation with that condition then lets accept it because with no doubt there is something creamy behind that condition. Malawi amadziwika bwino ndi chinkhalidwe. Ndiye tikapita mayiko akunjawo tizikachita konko tizisiya komweko osati mpakana kunyamula kumabwera nazo kuno! For me it a big N. O. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Peter Nkosi says:

    Bwana Sibande,

    Re your fourth paragraph. The laws were not suspended, although that is how the media and noise-makers report it. The truth is that GoM said that it had no desire to prosecute anyone for CONSENSUAL same-sex acts. However, it has to benoted that same-sex RAPE has been prosecuted under them

  19. STEVE says:

    Hopeful ans could be NO.becaus this is devil’s work,so there z no need for malawians to promot stupid things than developement issues.

  20. Jayjay says:

    No one is born gay by the will of God; I hope I am also making it clear for this writer’s opinion, I also hope your are not just a religious man as opposed to an enlightened or a believer. Religion and Christianity are two different entities: I just wonder the side which are. Let me put it this way:
    God knows us even before we are born and His plan for us is very good: to give future and or the goodies and blessings not to harm is or anyone. Given a loophole either through ancestor or in making, the devil too works against God before we get born or even after. You may not understand these if you take them physically as human right issues because the origin is spiritual: that which is in seen created that which we see or observe. You do not always expect to see spiritual issues and later on provide legal evidence.
    Much as we appreciate human rights claims, we must realize that the devil a cleaver muni pulsator seeking who to devour (sp). God gave His choice through His Word. He does not force to believe Him but only gives direction to our final destiny. The greatest gift God gave us is the choice to make a decision. No one should force anyone to decide but we will have to face the consequences of the decision we make later.
    I appeared to me that you do not have some clear answers to your claims as alluded to but of course you went ahead to providing us some guidance as per your opinion or human rights perspective. You have to know the devil is very manipulative and these days it mostly uses a temptation of poverty to lure those who are desperate. I do hope most of African nation are in that category. We have to show the devil that though we seem poor we not thus and are not desperate. We only have few days on this earth. Man shall not live by bread alone. We have to individually make a decision not harm our neighbour but instead gently lift those experience great temptations as others do for us; we do not have to throw stones but seen to offer a lasting solution.
    Yes, there are individual differences because everyone is cleated unique but there is no problem that has no solution; with God everything is possible.
    I have heard and seen people confess and set free from such attacks. We have watch out otherwise principles accepted universally are very only temporary. It is very unfortunate that most us do not accept things of God but those that witch doctors tell us. Yet we say we believe in the God of possibilities.
    Finally, leave politicians alone because you may find yourself entangled with the quest to deal with freshly satisfaction as opposed to pleasing your God. Render into Caeser that which is Caeser’s and into God that which is unto Him. Remember we have all to be accountable to God for everything we do or say.

  21. nachisale says:

    The argument on the difference between homosexuality and gay marriage lacks indepth intellectual engagement. The boundary between homosexuality and gay marriage is artificial. Opposition to gay marriage does not only stem from the attept to preserve traditional marriage between man and woman, but a strong denial of homosexuality as a normal human condition. Because our laws specifically ban homosexuality, that triggers and presents circumstantial grounds for calling for a referendum. The other route of repealing current laws, on such a controversial issue, is not only undemocratic but impinges on the rights of the people to take part in making the decision. Joyce Banda failed to repeal the laws because the decision was unpopular and she risked facing a serious backlash if she had dared to repeal the laws. Now, Africa`s problem is backwardness and confusion. As the world moves on with modernisation, we cling to primitive concepts and practices rather than following everything Western. We are using the same Christianity the West brought us to fight against homosexuality.

  22. SALIMA BOYS says:

    Eish koma nde zilipo,kuli kanthu,koma mwachidule tingoti ife zonyasazi ayi,azungu akhale nazo ndalama zawozooo,ifeso tikhale nawo umphawi wathuwu,nanga chiyambileni kutithandiza tapangapo chiyani ife??????with or without chaZungu Life goes On.nthawi.

  23. nachisale says:

    What a misguided argument and article. First, calling for a referendum does not quash or undermine human rights (law) it strengthens human rights and democracy that is why Ireland, one of the advanced democracies recently had a referendum on gay marriage. President Mutharika`s discussion and proposition of a referendum is therefore the best way of giving the people the power to decide on this serious issue. It is therefore shocking to find some columnists, journalists, academics and CSO activists faulting the idea of a referendum. Second, you are totally wrong in suggesting that Bingu`s stand against homosexuality was the cause of his fallout with the West. There were a series of economic policies and actions that made Bingu fall out with the West. TThe West is veru aware abouy piblic opinion being more against hosexuality in Africa that is why Kenya`s Uhuru Kenyatta had to tell off Obama recently. Do your research well before writing opinion articles.

  24. Sarafina says:

    Excellent article. Politicians are put in power to protect their people. All people. Religious. Non religious. Homosexuals. Heterosexuals. Religion should never be used to deny anyone their rights. Malawi ‘claims’ to be a religious country (ironically only when the topic of homosexuality comes up). How is it logical to tell the majority, that are against homosexuality because it had been imbedded in their minds from a very young age, to decide whether or not homosexuals get to have rights??? Absolutely ridiculous!!

  25. benidicto says:

    Nice argument I like it

  26. Kubvomereza zaucitsiruzi nde kuti ambiri ajoyina nao-cisawawa cokhacokha cifukwa Kukhala campaign ya geeee

  27. Sanned says:


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