Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living or Personally Affected by HIV and Aids (MANERELA+) on Friday 29th July 2016 held a Regional dialogue interface meeting between religious leaders and groups of people who engages themselves in different types of sexual activities called LGBTI [Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex].
The meeting held at Mkango Lodge in the Commercial City of Blantyre brought together pastors, Sheikhs, Prophets and individuals who are openly practicing LGBTI.
According to MANERELA+ official Allie Mwachande, the meeting was aimed at establishing gaps that exists in the faith community on issues to do with LGBTI.
Mwachande said it is high time Malawi as a nation including the faith community accept the reality that LGTBI is being practiced in Malawi and to talk openly about sexual diversities in human sexuality.
“It is no longer a secret that we have LGBTI groups in Malawi and the faith community need to accept that this is happening, understand what it is all about and play their role. They are men of God and they preach love therefore we want them to do their best in reaching out to those LGBTI groups and teach them what the gospel tells us about sexual issues” Mwachande told Nyasa Times.
Commenting on the matter, one of the pastors who attended the meeting told Nyasa Times that naturally, religious leaders are agents of change in every society hence the need to engage themselves in LGBTI.
“We are highly respected and we have a voice in a society. If we have a power to speak out against homophobia and relate to people who are homosexual or transgender or intersex, then we have the power to change mindsets and bring healing,” said the Pastor.
He also conquered with Mwachande that there is a need to open doors by making LGBTI friends.
“We need to use the pulpit to preach against homophobia (fear and hatred of gays and lesbians or transgender people) and help others to understand how marginalized some individuals and families feel because of their (or a family member) homosexual orientation” he said.
Another participant Hanifa Saidi from Ndirande said the meeting was helpful.
“If you can see the way I have dressed I am a real muslim but all along I never believed we have people practicing gay, lesbian etc but today I have heard for myself and I have seen them confessing. We just need to accept them because we are living in the same world,” she said.
One of the participants who is a member of the LGBTI expressed concern with how they are treated.
“I was born a boy and since my birth according to my parents, I have all along be doing things that females do. I love engaging with women, speak like a woman and do almost everything a woman do but I am not a lesbian. I dont do it for money because at my home we have everything”
said the source (Name witheld).
Among other things, , violations suffered by LGBTI persons and key population in Malawi include denial of access to health, denial of access to justice, denial to right to legal presentation.
Meanwhile, MANERELA+ is doing everything to create an environment where everybody feels safe and secure as well as making sure that the rights of all people are being respected and enjoyed without descrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity according to Mwachande.
MANERELA is an Interfaith and Voluntary Membeship Network of religious leaders living with or personally affected by HIV/Aids and works to reduce denial, discrimination, inaction and misaction through the promotion and involvement of the faith community.
As part of its good work, in April this year, MANERELA scooped a prestigious Aids and Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) HIV, TB and Human Rights Award.
ARASA is a partnership of 106 Civil Society Organizations working together to promote human rights based response to HIV and TB in Southern and East Africa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :