HIV/Aids prevalence rate worry MANERELA+: Faith community agrees to accommodate Malawi gay groups

Some Religious leaders in the country have agreed and collaborated with the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living or Personally Affected by HIV and Aids (MANERELA+) on the need to accomodate people who engages themselves in LGBTI [Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex] as they are worried about the highrate of HIV /AIDS prevalence rate.

Harold Kachepatsonga facilitated the meeting. Photo by Elijah Phimbi Nyasa times.

Some of the participants at the meeting. Photo by Kachepatsonga-Manerela

This was one of the major positive outcomes of a dialogue interface meeting between religious leaders and members of the LGBTI held at Nkambiri Lodge in Mangochi last Friday.

The meeting which was organised by MANERELA+ with funding from brought together Pastors, Sheikhs, Prophets and individuals who openly practices LGBTI was aimed at sharing the roles of Religious Leaders in ensuring access of health services and HIV response to LGBTI, understanding tolerance among religious leaders towards LGBTI persons among others.

MANERELA+ official Allie Mwachande, described the meeting as success.

“It was a successful meeting taking into consideration that the team of religious leaders we had today comprised of first timers to attend such meetings. We will continue with such meetings so that we hear what the leaders think and say towards LGBTI’s” said Mwachande in an interview with Nyasa Times after the meeting.

“What we want is for religious leaders to tolerate that there are LGBTI’s and that is exactly what is happening now. Tolerating and accepting are two different things so as a nation we need to
understand properly,” Mwachande explained.

One of the Pastors Cidrick Kabango said the meeting was of great importance as they were able to properly understand issues related with LGBTI.

“The meeting enlightened us to know and understand alot of things including people who were born with mixed organs among other things and as the faith community, we just need to tolerate that these things are indeed happening.

“The only way to tackle what we call it bad is to be close to those involved and assist them accordingly.” said Pastor Kabango.

Also speaking at the meeting was MANERELA+ Executive Director Dennis Nseu who said the Churches have a critical role to play in the fight against HIV and Aids.

He therefore said his organization will continue engaging the faith community in the fight against the pandemic.

According to Nseu, the HIV/Aids privallence rate for LGBTI group is on the higher side comparing to the general population hence the need to assist the people involved.

Testimony

One of the members of the LGBTI Community (Name deliberately Withheld) expressed concern with how they are treated by some members of the faith community.

The young lady aged 23 and a Primary School Teacher by profession in Mangochi narrated that one pastor called her ‘satanic’ after she confessed she was born with male feelings and seeked guidance.

In an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, she pleaded with the entire society to understand and respect rights of the minority.

“We all humans and like myself, I have always wanted to start going back to church again. I am a true Anglican but what an Anglican Priest did to me was very bad. He called me a satanist and that he can’t accomodate me instead of playing his role as a man of God,” she said.

“If I am to give ratings on how I live, I can say am 68 percent happy and 32 percent unhappy.  We can condemn a sin only if we come to know it,” she concluded.

The development comes when debate continues in the country on whether to legalize same sex marriages or not.

The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) organised national wide protests against the alleged drafted bill to legalize abortion and same sex marriage.

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