The inhumane conduct against sexual minorities is affecting access to health services and employment in Malawi, an organisation that works to promote minority rights Centre for Development for People (Cedep) has said.
Simeon Thodi, the communications officer for Cedep said his organisations has registered over 50 cases of violence agaist sexual minorities last year.
“Sexual minorities in Malawi face a lot of discrimination in the society and it is so intense in areas of access to healtxh service, in getting employment and in places of worship such as churches and mosques,” Thodi said.
Thodi said Cedep condemn violent or degrading abuse of sexual and gender minorities.
One gay identified as Precious said: “I realised I was gay at the age of 14 while in secondary school. My family knows I am different, but no one has ever approached me to find out about my sexual orientation. I suspect some members of my community know I am gay as I have received some death threats because people think I am evil.”
When asked about his experiences trying to get medical care at a health facility, Precious’s eagerness to speak evaporates.
“I had sexual health issue that required medical attention. I was disappointed with the way the nurse at the health facility handled the situation. After the routine diagnosis, she asked me if I was homosexual. I said yes because I wanted help. She told me that I was evil and my future was doomed because God does not allow that,” Precious said, his head bowed.
“She then called her colleagues to come and see me. They took turns pouring insults on me. One of them openly said I did not deserve medical attention. Instead I should be arrested for indulging in homosexuality, which is an offence. I was totally upset and I left the clinic for a drug store so I could treat myself,” he added.
He said government should ensure that there is unjust discrimination, and criminal penalties against sexual minorities and create an environment in which they can live peacefully as full members of society.
Cedep does not want sexual minorities treated as criminals. Sadly, these voices are often drowned out by Churches.
“I wish for the day Malawians will accept us as we are. Being gay or lesbian in this country, you risk being excommunicated from church, fired from work, banished from home even getting arrested,” one gay man identified as James said.
A lesbian identifiesd as Mercy 18, describes being lesbian in predominant Christian Malawi as a nightmare.
“I realised I was attracted to women when I was in secondary school. I have never had any feelings for the opposite sex. No one can change that. So I plead with churches and everyone concerned to let us be and to accept us. Give us healthcare like anyone else regardless of cultural beliefs and religion,” she said.
In December 2016 the Episcopal Conference of Malawi held a protest march asking the government to enforce laws that criminalise same-sex relationships and homosexuality, arguing that they threaten traditional family values.
Under Malawian law, consensual sex between men is punishable with 14 years imprisonment. In 2010, two men received the maximum sentence for allegedly holding a public engagement ceremony commercial city of Blantyre. The sentence attracted international condemnation with some Western donors withdrawing support to Malawi.
The couple was pardoned after serving five months of their sentence after then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Malawi’s then president the late Binguwa Mutharika.
Malawi’s government has since suspended prosecutions under its anti-sodomy laws.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :