Mutharika to discuss gay rights at Commonwealth meet

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika will join other world leaders for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which opens Friday in Perth, Australia where issues of homosexuals will be raised.

The CHOGM talks, to be opened by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II , will also debate whether the body should adopt a charter of common values, and create the office of commissioner for democracy, rule of law and human rights.

The biennial Summit provides heads of government with the opportunity to discuss Commonwealth and global issuesand to jointly decide upon policies and initiatives.

Commonwealth countries will be urged to repeal homophobic laws  in a bid to stamp out the deadly spread of HIV, the virus which causes Aids.

Mutharika: Off to Perth for CHOGM summit

London-based human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who vigorously campaigned for the release of two Malawian men who were sentenced to 14 years in jail for their same-sex marriage has written Britai Foreign Secretary Willam Hague as well as the Commonwealth secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, and the foreign ministers of Canada and Australia asking them to put lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights on the agenda for the summit .

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a non-governmental organisation founded in 1987 to promote and advocate humanitarian issues in the Commonwealth of Nations, has also campaigned for decriminalisation of homosexuality.

And Rob Lake, the executive director of the Australian Federation of Aids Organisations, said said the laws needed to be repealed to help reduce infection rates and while the situation in some countries was improving, there were other nations which were heading in the other direction.

Mutharika defends Malawi laws for the criminalisation of sexual orientation when he adopted Zimbabwean President  Robert Mugabe’s lingo, describing gays as worse than dogs.

He has the backing of Malawi Counci of Churches as it argues that while Malawi needed aid, it was against donor countries calling for the legalisation of same sex marriages as the practice was a contradiction with the teachings of God, Malawi’s rich traditions and culture and a threat to the family unit.

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