Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Malawi: Protect, Don't Convict Homosexuals

On 18 May 2010, a gay couple in Malawi was slammed with 14 years in prison with hard labour. What does this verdict represent - justice or injustice? Should Malawi protect or convict homosexuals?

The couple - Steven Monjeza, 26 years old, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20 years old, were convicted for gay sex - an act considered to be "against the order of nature". As strange as this may sound, gay sex remains a crime in Malawi.

Not surprisingly, the conviction has been celebrated by many Africans, including religious groups - who consider homosexuality to be a taboo and a flawed way of life influenced by Western values. No doubt, many see the fight for gay rights in Africa and other parts of the world as an attempt by Western democracies to force African countries and other developing countries to accept homosexuality as a way of life.

Believe it or not - when all is said and done, Steven and Tiwonge will not be welcomed home - in the southern town of Machinjiri. They will be rejected by their friends and relatives - simply because their sexual orientation is considered to be a taboo. The government of Malawi understands the danger they face. This explains why the couple was allegedly denied bail after their arrest in December 2009.

According to a survey by The Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press, Africans are overwhelmingly hostile towards homosexuality. The survey reveals a high percentage of people who argue that homosexuality should not be accepted in the following African countries:
  • Kenya ------------------------------------- 99%
  • Senegal ------------------------------------ 98%
  • Mali --------------------------------------- 96%
  • Ghana ------------------------------------- 93%
  • Nigeria ------------------------------------ 95%
  • Uganda ------------------------------------ 95%
  • Ivory Coast -------------------------------- 84%
  • Angola ------------------------------------- 62%
  • South Africa --------------------------------63%
Malawi should amend the Stone Age law that criminalizes homosexuality and take necessary steps to protect; not convict homosexuals! There is no denying that homosexuals are an endangered minority group in Malawi and many other countries in Africa. They are persecuted by governments that have the obligation to protect them and rejected by their communities - including family and friends. In Africa, homosexuals stand between the devil and the deep blue sea!

Despite the blow to human rights and gay rights - delivered by the verdict of Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa in the case of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga and the state of Malawi, neighboring Uganda, according to cameroononline.org, has made a move in the right direction - by recommending the withdrawal of a controversial Anti-Gay Bill. This is an indication that slowly, but surely, Malawi and other African states with hard-line gay laws will protect; not convict homosexuals.

Personally - as an African, I grew up in a society where homosexuality is a taboo and I am yet to understand the sexual orientation, but without jeopadizing my religious views and moral standing - I advocate freedom of choice, the right to privacy and all other human rights and fundamental freedoms. Under no circumstance should homosexuality constitute a crime - especially when it involves two consenting adults.

*Photo by Eldson Chagara/Reuters extracted from guardian.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for bringing this shameful aspect of Africa and how gays are treated. Even though Argentina is a society comprised by immigrants, military governments brought the outlandish aspects like political and sexual discrimination. I am certain as African countries build stronger democratic institutions groups like gays will benefit and be more accepted.

    ReplyDelete

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