Malawi rights groups have raised concerns over growing homophobia against sexual minorities.
The nation’s laws have outlawed same-sex relationships since colonialism under Britain, and a sodomy conviction carries a 14-year prison sentence.
But there has been a debate to decriminalize homosexuality which has received resistance from faith group and traditional leaders.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), and Centre for Development of the People (Cedep) in a statement made available to Nyasa Times on President Joyce Banda’s State of the Nation address from a human rights perspective, observe “with great concern the prevailing homophobic attitudes amongst faith based and traditional community against sexual minorities. This poses a serious threat towards the realization of equality and coexistence amongst all Malawians.”
They argue that discriminating those involved in same-sex relationships was “infringement” on their rights.
“Despite calling for a sober public debate on the matter a few days into office, President Joyce Banda’s administration has deliberately taken a mute stand on the matter in the process rendering her earlier stance as mere rhetoric,” said the two groups.
Nevertheless, CHRR and Cedep have applauded the Banda government for the commitment towards ensuring a democratic process and free tripartite elections in 2014 as well as respect for press freedom.
“The media occupies a central role in as far as ensuring free and fair elections but to our dismay the State media continues to be skewed towards the ruling party despite a plethora of recent credible criticisms,” reads the statement.
Homosexuality is a hot debate in Malawi and religious organisations demand gay rights not to be allowed I Malawi, saying “such acts are abomination.”