Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) has described running mates who participated in the Tuesday evening debate as “confused”, saying they must rethink their stands on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Cedep executive director, Gift Trapence, said on Wednesday in the aftermath of the debate that it was unfortuanate that Mohammed Sidik Mia (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), Frank Mwenifumbo (United Democratic Front (UDF) and Michael Usi (UTM Party) – who participated in the debate at the Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu – did not take the welfare and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Malawi at heart.
During the debate, while UTM’s Michael Usi was a bit softer and called for a “national referendum”.
Usi said: “If they say yes, then we will go that way. If not, then we won’t. So, for us, we will have a people referendum.”
UDF’s Mwenifumbo and MCP’s Mia outrightly ruled out the idea of accomodating the LGBTI.
“The issue of LGBTI is not in our culture. It is a foreign phenomenon, and we will never allow to be dictated by the West,” said Mwenifumbo.
And Sidik Mia reminded that homosexuality is illegal in Malawi punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, according to the Penal Code whose offences include “unnatural acts” and “buggery”.
Mia said: “I do not subscribe to that all. Those that will cross the floor will be arrested.”
But Trapence told Nyasa Times that the runningmates stances were “based on their little understanding of human rights.”
According to Trapence, the parties should go back to their drawing boards as the population of homosexuals in Malawi has now hit nearly 40 000.
“They need to understand the nature of issues they are tackling,” said Trapence.
Cedep has been putting LGBTI issues on the national agenda in Malawi and in 2014 received an award in Denmark for contributing to changing society’s perception on homosexuality amid socio-cultural and legal challenges.
Trapence urges Malawians to treat gays and lesbians as people like any other. He wants law enforcers to protect all Malawians regardless of their sexual orientation.
He says: “Like any citizen, they should be equal before the law. No one should be discriminated against before the law.”
In Malawi, homosexuality is outlawed and the first openly-gay couple of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza was in 2010 given the maximum sentence of 14 years each. They held a public traditional engagement in December 2009.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :