The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wishes to register our profound concern over recent pronouncements made by some eminent personalities regarding Malawi’s position on gay, lesbian, and same sex relationships. Specifically, we wish to raise our serious misgivings on this issue taking into account applause recently made in the United States of America (USA) congratulating Mrs. Joyce Banda ‘for taking strides to embrace HIV positive persons and sexual minorities, including homosexuals’. The fight against HIV and AIDS has been there for many years now and reached its peak during the previous administration where the HIV prevalence rate was tremendously reduced to about 12 percent. The recent applause can therefore only be made in light of the homosexuality drive and not very much from the perspective of curbing HIV and AIDS.
One source of the applause is musician Sir Elton John who explicitly made such congratulatory remarks at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington DC, USA. The congratulatory pronouncements made towards Malawi were captured in the Nation of 25th July 2012 (p.3), and were also monitored on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS).
Sir Elton John is gay and openly confesses to be a homosexual. The DPP would like to get confirmation about the basis for such applause made on Malawi at international forums. The nation and the people of Malawi have the right to know if the current administration of Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda is indeed taking steps and making decisions that majority of Malawians are not aware of.
Malawians need to know if the congratulatory pronouncements being poured on Malawi are a sign of concrete commitment that Malawi has made in accepting homosexuality in the country. On a related note, the DPP looks back to Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda’s recent State of The Nation Address which outlined a number of laws that will be repealed under her administration. One of the laws is within the Penal Code and it outlaws same sex marriages and homosexual relationships in this country.
Repeal of Homosexuality Laws
Her Excellency Mrs. Banda made a commitment through the State of The Nation Address that her administration will repeal this law. Implicitly, the new administration is taking steps to push for a legal framework that turns Malawi into a pro-gay and homosexual nation. The DPP is deeply concerned with such steps that are happening outside the views of the people. DPP suggests that any repeal or amendment to such laws should take into account the voices of the people, and Malawians should be the ultimate decision makers on whether this country should open up to same sex relationships, gay marriages and similar affairs.
The DPP believes that Malawians would wish to make references to their cultural and religious values as part of the processes of arriving at the final decision. In simple and straight forward terms, the DPP strongly urges the current administration to come in the open and declare their position on same sex marriages. It is unfortunate and unfair if the leadership under the current administration is spreading pro-gay statements outside of Malawi when the State President has traveled abroad, or in closed boardroom discussions with non-Malawian institutions. If Sir Elton John’s congratulatory statements to Malawi are made based on a homosexuality position that the current administration is propagating, the DPP calls upon Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda to urgently give the same information to Malawians at an open forum within the country instead of making such pronouncements abroad.
Call for an Open Debate on Gay Rights and Homosexuality
The DPP further wishes to challenge the current administration of Mrs. Joyce Banda to a nationwide consensus building process on gay rights issues and homosexuality matters. As has already been pointed out, these are highly controversial and can be divisive issues. The nationwide consultation process would help to diffuse any tension and mitigate against any conflict that may arise around this subject matter. The DPP believes that all persons are equal under the laws. Similarly, gays, lesbians, homosexuals and similar sexual minority groups are, first and foremost, human beings. DPP believes that by virtue of them being human beings, they must have access to equal protection under the law on human rights that are universally agreed as human rights.
However, where the DPP wishes nationwide consensus is on the question: Is the right to engage into same sex and homosexual relationships a human right? Additionally: Is Malawi and the current administration under pressure to allow homosexuality from the international community in exchange for aid? Ultimately, the nationwide consensus building should tackle the question: Are all Malawians ready to accept homosexuality? DPP believes that the voices of the people and citizens should be heard on this matter. DPP recommends that those who are for the idea of allowing homosexuality in Malawi should be given a platform to be heard, and those who are not for the idea should also be given an equal opportunity and right to be heard.
The DPP strongly advises the current administration against taking a careless approach on ‘minority rights’ issues. We call upon Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda to tread carefully on homosexuality issues and carefully weigh foreign interests against the interests of Malawians. While we appreciate that homosexuals are first and foremost human beings with equal rights like the right to life, right to education, right to economic activity, and others which should be guaranteed and protected, it is however too premature and careless to behave as if all Malawians have accepted the notion of homosexuality, gay marriage, lesbianism and same sex relationships. As a nation, we should not introduce strange notions under the pretext of fighting HIV and AIDS.
Let the people’s voice be heard on this matter. Chiefs should be heard, religious leaders should be heard, academics should be heard, civil societies should add their voice, and ultimately, the voices of the voiceless and ordinary Malawians should also be heard. Finally, DPP wishes to emphasize that while Malawi budgets need external donor support, homosexuality issues and decisions will affect the whole nation and should therefore not be made in board rooms or with the narrow intention of appeasing donors for aid. The current administration should not sacrifice the broader interests of all Malawians for the love of silver in form of donor money but should engage in open minded dialogue with development partners that will preserve and protect the interests of all Malawians.
*Issued by Wakuda Kamanga, Secretary General of DPPFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :