Malawi has asked for $388 888 (about K180 million) from The Global Fund for Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV and Aids to support activities such as testing, counselling and treatment, condoms and prevention of risky behaviour for same-sex in the country despite homosexuality being against the law.
And Minister of Health Jean Kalilani has said those engaging in homosexuality will still be committing a crime and will be arrested to face the law.
Kalilani said there are no plans by Malawi government to change homosexuality laws, saying it will remain criminal.
“There will be no change in laws on homosexuality,” said Kalilani as quoted in the press.
“It is still a crime to anyone engaging in the practice.”
Under the Malawian penal code, a relic of British colonial rule, homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in jail with hard labour. Gay and lesbian organisations have long complained that the law and widespread homophobia makes access to HIV treatment and prevention services difficult.
“It is difficult to offer HIV and Aids services to homosexuals when there are sodomy laws on the other hand. The same government is criminalising same sex relationships and the same government wants money to help them. This does not make any sense,” pointed out Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence.
Trapence said Malawi “cannot continue excluding [homosexuals] identified as a key driver to new HIV/Aids infections.”
Malawi’s government moved to suspend laws against homosexuality in 2012 when it issued a moratorium where it ordered police not to arrest people for same-sex acts until the anti-gay laws are reviewed by parliament.
But that review has stalled.
Traditionalists and religious leaders in Malawi strongly oppose moves to legalise same-sex acts, arguing that homosexuality is alien to Malawi’s cultural and religious values.
But Human Rights Watch points out that arresting people for consensual same-sex conduct violates international human rights standards and constitutional guarantees of equality in many countries.
A seven-site MSM (Men having Sex with Men) HIV prevalence, social behavioural and population size estimation study released at the end of 2014 estimates show that MSM make up about 1.84 percent of the overall male population aged 20 to 39 years in Malawi or about 38 734 individuals.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :