The United States of America government through its embassy in Lilongwe has urged the Malawi authorities to immediately and unconditionally release two Malawian men, Cuthbert Kulemela, 19, and Kelvin Gonani, 39, who were arrested Lilongwe.
The two men were arrested on suspicion that they were having “gay sex” act in their bedroom and charged with homosexual related offence that carries a maximum of 14 years in prison with hard labour.
The arrest comes amid a growing local and international campaign for Malawi to “go easy” on gays and lesbians.
US ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer, has said she is “deeply concerned” with the arrest of teenager and his partner.
In a statement posted on her Facebook page, the US ambassador described the arrest as unlawful.
The couple was arrested in Lilongwe on December 7 and charged with sodomy which is in violation of section 153 of the Penal Code.
The two were also subjected to a medical examination without their consent.
However, the American Embassy has strongly reminded the Malawi Government of its policy to not arrest people who are engaged in consensual same-sex activity.
“I urge the Malawi government to make good on its international human rights obligations, drop the charges, and resolve this unfortunate incident as quickly as possible,” reads part of the statement.
Legal experts argue that the laws under which gays are charged were archaic and unconstitutional.
The Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) which fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities calling for decriminalising homosexuals.
Cedep director Gift Trapence said the arrest of the two men solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation “amounts to discrimination” and it is in violation of their rights to freedom of conscience, expression, and privacy. “
He said laws criminalizing homosexuality and gender identity criminalize the legitimate exercise of these human rights, which are protected in treaties ratified by Malawi, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
He called for their immediate and unconditional release of the gay couple.
The two men have since be freed on bail.
Cedep also criticized the Malawian authorities for subjecting the two men to forcible anal medical examinations to establish if they had had sex so that they could be charged with sodomy.
The group said such forcible anal examinations, without the men’s consent, contravene the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
The group says studies show that because of homophobic legislation, gays and lesbians are driven underground making them hard to reach with information that could protect them from HIV/Aids.
Nyasa Times understands there is a network of high-profile people who are involved homosexual acts but afraid to come out in the open due to homophobic legislation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :