Influential religious and traditional leaders in the country have asked the visiting US envoy on homosexuality issues to spare time and have an audience with them before he leaves the country.
This call has come upon noticing that the envoy has only booked appointments with government and civil society organizations (CSOs).
A statement from the US embassy says US government official responsible for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues, Randy Betry is expected to be in the country for a few days where he plans to discuss Malawi’s stand on homosexuality with several stakeholders.
This selective schedule is what has irked religious and traditional leaders who say a discussion affecting Malawians cannot take place without their input.
Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) a platform of Roman Catholic bishops in Malawi has asked the envoy and the US embassy to reschedule his engagements so as to include church organizations on the list.
“Any discussion affecting the social and moral fibre of Malawi life should at its best be as inclusive and accommodative as possible. Our teaching and a majority of our faithful have spoken clearly against the bullying of our international partners on issues of constitutional change to accommodate homosexuality in our laws. If the envoy wants to get a clear picture then he should not limit his meetings to few institutions. We wait for him to grant us an audience within his stay in Malawi,” said Archbishop Thomas Msusa who is ECM Chairperson and head of the church in the country.
Also weighing in is Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) an umbrella body of evangelical churches in Malawi.
One of MCC’s executive members, Reverend Chatha Msangaambe argued that the timing of the visit and the scheduling is flawed as it does not consider the religious and cultural dynamics of the country.
“There is nothing wrong for him to meet government and CSOs but our problem is that without meeting the church then he will go back with a foggy picture of what Malawians are saying about the issue. Their denial of our sentiments does not help in how we discuss issues of homosexuality and move forward in mutual respect,” said Msangaambe who is also General Secretary of CCAP Nkhoma Synod.
Other religious bodies that have also demanded meetings with Randy Betry are Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) and Quadria Association of Malawi.
On their part, traditional leaders say as custodians of culture and day-to-day supervisors of communities they should not be left out of key meetings like these ones.
Inkosi ya Makosi Mbelwa V of Mzimba wondered why United States government is acting on misinformation from their representatives here in Malawi.
“Who can say they have listened to what Malawians on homosexuality issues if they leave out traditional leaders? He is representing the United States government as such we must meet him and tell him what 17 million Malawians are saying on this issue,” he said.
Inkosi Mbelwa disclosed that some of the chiefs on the panel to meet the US envoy include Senior Chiefs Lundu (Chikwawa), Lukwa (Kasungu), Inkosi Gomani (Ntcheu), T/A Chikumbu (Mulanje) Tsabango (Lilongwe) and many more.
Since the issue of homosexuality started making rounds in the mainstream media some months ago, debate has been prominent in the public sphere on daily basis with many Malawians rejecting proposals to change the constitution in favour of what they call ‘alien’ culture.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :