Malawi MP aspirants differ on gay marriages

Controversies continue to surround the issue of same sex marriages as Chikhwawa West parliamentary aspirants differed on whether Malawi could prioritize legalizing same sex marriages to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry each other.

 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Kennedy Maluwa said he would speak against legalizing same sex marriage in parliament.

“I will make sure not to allow government to amend the country’s laws to allow gay and lesbian marriages in the country because this is against biblical teachings,” he said.

People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) candidate Elijah Simbi agreed with Maluwa of DPP to vote down the bill that would encourage same sex marriage in the

“Gay and lesbian acts are shameful and sinful because according to the bible marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Simbi.

But Malawi Congress Party (MCP) parliamentary aspirant Mc Justice Betha is of the view that the country should hold referendum for people to decide on the legalization of same sex marriage bill.

“I will lobby government through the August House to immediately conduct a referendum for people to decide on the controversial issue of same sex marriage which has been dominating the public domain,” said Betha.

In his remarks National Salvation Front (NASAF) parliamentary candidate for Chikhwawa West Constituency, Blessing Jambo described same sex marriage as complex issue which can be resolved by conducting a referendum.

“Once people elect me as their parliamentarian on May 20, I will vote in favour of pushing government to immediately conduct referendum,” he said.

On his part Chief Chapananga of Chikhwawa urge Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which advocates for legalization of same sex marriage to change their mindsets and concentrate on pertinent issues which can develop the country.

The Chief encouraged parliamentary aspirants to support Climate Change and National Agriculture policies.

“I have never heard of same sex marriage in my area and it’s an abomination in our culture for men to marry each other likewise women cannot be allowed to be together,” he said.

Sections 153 and 156 of the country’s penal code outlaw sexual intercourse between people of the same sex.  But some human rights campaigners argue that the laws contravene the constitution and international conventions that guarantee equality and non-discrimination regardless of sexual orientation.

Section 20 of the Malawi Constitution says discrimination against persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination because of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.

Crispin Sibande, a human rights lawyer for the Malawi Human Rights Commission, says he thinks the phrase “other status” includes sexual orientation.  He also describes the penal code as inconsistent with the Constitution, which deplores any form of discrimination.

The existence of homosexuals in the country is not in dispute, though their exact numbers are not known.  In 2009,  Nyasa Times were the first to report on the formation of an association called the Malawi Gay Rights Movement.

But Malawi has long been hostile to gays.  In 2005, the Anglican Church in Malawi rejected the appointment of a British vicar, Rev. Nicholas Henderson, as the bishop-elect of the Lake Malawi diocese.  The church said it based its decision on his support for gay rights.

Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries. –(Additional reporting by Henry Chibwe, Nyasa Times)

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