United States of America (USA) envoy for the human rights of gays and lesbians has dismissed the claim that western aid to Malawi will be attached with a condition that the southern African nation approves of same-sex marriage.
Randy Berry, the first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI), people appointed by President Barack Obama, told Nyasa Times that the notion that aid will be given on the basis of outlawing homosexuality is “completely false”.
Berry stressed that he did not come to Malawi to pressure the government to allow homosexuality but on the need to combat discrimination against LGBTI people.
He said issues of LGBTI or minority rights cannot be divorced from much broader issues of good governance, the rule of law, and independence of the Judiciary,
Berry, who is a gay himself, said LGBTI issues do affect members of the community and several other things.
He, however, stressed USA engagement to Malawi is focused on improving governance, but there is no conditionality based on homosexuality.
The USA envoy nonetheless said the gay movement is growing and that LGBTI community in Malawi cannot be wished away.
Berry said it was not possible for conservative African nations like Malawi to “live in a bubble” on the question of the rights for gay couples but that they would not attach strings to aid on the laws on sexual orientation.
He said USA believes that “no persons should be subjected to discrimination or violence on any ground, including on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Homophobia is now deep-rooted in Malawi.
Malawi has traditionally been one of the largest recipients of international aid including assistance from USA
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu reaffirmed government’s decision to halt the arrest and prosecution of gay citizens while lawmakers review existing anti-gay laws.
Tembenu said no arrests or prosecutions must occur while the country reviews its laws.
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