The arrest of two men in Malawi last week on homosexuality charges was raised in UK parliament on Wednesday.
Cuthbert Kulemela, 19, and Kelvin Gonani, 39, were arrested Dec. 7 for allegedly having sexual intercourse inside Gonani’s home. They were charged and detained, despite the 2012 decision by Malawi officials to halt such arrests countrywide.
Raising the issue at UK parliament in London’s Westminster, Deidre Brock the SNP Member of Parliament for Edinburgh North, asked if the Secretary of State was aware of the arrest of the two men perceived to be gay.
He asked: “ Will the Government make urgent representations to the Malawian Government, echoing the calls of the US ambassador, calling on them to live up to their international human rights obligations and ensure that these charges are dropped?”
Justine Greening MP, who is the Secretary of State for DFID and the most senior minister responsible for all UK aid, confirmed to the House that London will be confronting Lilongwe over the issue.
“We will be making representations, and the honourable Lady is absolutely right to flag that up as a key area of human rights that needs to be addressed, wherever it takes place,” Greening said.
And later MP Patrick Grady standing on a point of order, made a follow up to the matter.
“Essentially, it appears that they have been arrested for being gay. This is probably as much of an issue for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as it is for DFID, so I am glad that there are FCO Ministers present. I hope the government will respond in the same way as the Secretary of State for International Development did by condemning the action,” said Grady.
Speaker of UK Parliament, John Bercow, said the arrest news of the two men is, “frankly, horrifying—it is absolutely horrifying news indeed.”
He said: “Of course, there is a direct locus for the Secretary of State and the Department for International Development in view of our continuing commitment to Malawi.”
UK High Commission in Lilongwe indicated that Britain remains committed to ensuring that all LGBT people around the world are free to live their lives in a safe and just environment.
Malawi government is being asked to defend human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds.
Kulemela and Gonani were granted police bail on Dec. 8.
Their bail bond form indicates that they are being charged with sodomy in violation of Section 153 of the Penal Code (carnal knowledge against the order of nature), which is punishable by a prison sentence of 14 years.
National Police spokesperson, Nicholas Gondwa, however said police did not arrest the suspects, arguing that the police only acted to protect the lives of the two from the angry mob that was stoning the house of one of the suspects
People may perceive it as an arrest but what we did was to protect them. We took them to our police office just for their own safety because on that day, these two people’s lives were in danger.
“People, who surrounded the suspect’s house, could have done anything because they know [him] as one of the people who sodomise young boys. That’s why we released them two days after the arrest,” said Gondwa.
However, the bail document, a copy seen by Nyasa Times, indicates clearly that an arrest was made for alleged sodomy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :