Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected with HIV and Aids (MANERELA+)-a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Religious grouping aimed at promoting Faith Based Response in reducing Stigma and Discrimination and other Human Rights Issues-has trashed a proposal by Malawi Human Rights Commission’s (MHRC) to conduct a Homosexuality/LGBTI (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Intersex) Survey in the Country.
MHRC has called for and has been getting public input on the road map for implementing a public inquiry into LGBTI in Malawi to be followed by a stakeholders engagement meeting scheduled to commence today 4th August 2017.
The Commission claimed in a statement released recently that on November 7th 2016, Malawi government through the Solicitor General Dr. Jane Banda, SC, wrote MHRC office requesting the commission to hold public inquiries on Gay Rights.
The findings of the survey are to determine the way forward on how best to tackle the issue of homosexuality which has been outstanding for a long time both on the local and international scene.
Speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times, MANERERA+ Human Rights Activists Allie Mwachande and Harold Kachepatsonga described the survey as ‘unnecessary, discriminatory in nature and a big joke’.
The human rights defenders argued that LGBTI Community is already a minority grouping and marginalized.
“I always repeat that we as MANERELA-a religious grouping, it is not that we are here to promote homosexuality but to make sure that everyone’s rights are respected. The whole world, homosexuality is usually avoided because of its negative connotations relating to the way it has been described and used in the past”
“LGBTI persons are denied either by Law or Practices basic Civil, Political, Social and Economic Rights and the violations have been
documented in all parts of the world, so holding such a survey is a total violation of human rights,” observed Mwachande.
He added: “Being Gay or Lesbian is not a western invention, it is a human reality and we just need to understand that Gay Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Gay Rights”.
“Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavious because it refers to feelings and self concept. Persons may or may not express
their sexual orientation in their behaviours” he said.
Commenting on a religious point of view, Mwachande said there is a need for denominations to take an inclusive approach towards LGBTI persons because ‘Everyone was created in the image of God and Bible or Quaran teaches us to love one another’.
“We remind people that the relationship between religion and LGBTI issues are more complex that it appears or reported in the media as well as what people say. We have LGBTI persons in our Churches and Mosque but we can’t force them out but we just accept not tolerate. LGBTI Christians or Muslims are a living reminder that religion and LGBTI status need not to be diametrically opposed” narrated Mwachande.
“As men of God, Churches should promote Non-Discrimination,” he said.
In summarizing the whole issue, Kachepatsonga described issuing of an Inquiry on LGBTI as ‘a big joke’.
“The LGBI’s are already few in numbers and conducting such a survey can influence more human rights violations to the grouping. I think there are so many important MHRCC and government can think of doing,” he said.
The Review of Homosexuality in Malawi started way back in 2011 when government banned homosexuality in response to public opinion.
This followed the arrest of the first Malawian gay couple of Steve Muonjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga who publicly got engaged.
The two were charged and sentenced to 14 years Imprisonment before they were pardoned by the then President late Bingu wa Mutharika following pressure from Civil Society Organizations (CSO’S) and Western Donor Countries including America and Britain.
But Mutharika said homosexuality is “Evil and very bad before the eyes of God”.
Meanwhile, other Human Rights groups Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have also unwelcomed the proposed survey.
In a letter HRW wrote MHRC dated 16th June 2017 signed by its LGBTI Rights Progamme Director Graeme Reid argues that LGBTI persons who are already in minority cannot be subjected to a survey in a country where the majority of people is against them”.
CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence was quoted in a local newspaper as saying: “CEDEP will not support a process that reinforces
He said the his organization’s expectation is to see a process that has a human rights face.
Meanwhile, MANERELA has vowed to do everything possible in conjunction with fellow CSO’s to fully protect the rights of LGBTI’s.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :