Respect gay rights, UN’s Ban tells African leaders

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon — in an unusually outspoken declaration Sunday — told leaders at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, who included Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, that they must respect gay rights.

Homosexuality is controversial in many African states including Malawi where is is criminalised.

The UN Secretary General accused many nations of the 54-member African Union of ignoring or “even sanctioning” discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for “too long.”

Respect gay rights, UN's Ban tells African leaders

Outgoing African Union chairman Tedoro Obiang Nguema, who is president of Equatorial Guinea, speaking just before Ban delivered his speech, had accused “external powers” of perpetuating their influence.

South Africa is the only country on the continent that legally recognizes gay rights and same-sex marriage.

Ban told summit leaders at a Chinese-built AU headquarters inaugurated on Saturday, whose two-day agenda is supposed to be focused on intra-Africa trade, that confronting homophobic discrimination was a “challenge.”

“But, we must not give up on the ideas of the universal declaration of human rights,” Ban said.

President 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 Council 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, culture and a threat to the family unit.

Malawi’s president has also on several occasions publicly denounced Malawi’s colonial masters, Britain and development partners for advocating for homosexuality in the impoverished southern African country using aid as a bet.

Homosexual issues started grabbing headlines in Malawi when two male partners Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were sentenced to 14 years with hard labour by Blantyre Principal Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa for holding an engaement in public

Usiwa Usiwa in his judgement said: “Malawi is not ready to see its sons getting married to its sons.”—(Additional reporting by agencies)

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