Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gays activists' demonstrations Friday

The arrest of two gay lovebirds, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, has irked the Malawi Gay Rights Movement (Magrim), a representative body for Malawian gays and lesbians, which has since planned one big demonstrations slated for Friday in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre.
Magrim Publicity Secretary, Wongani James Phiri, confirmed the development, adding the grouping was saddened that police officers acted with “brutality by expediently arresting the two innocent citizens” yet the country was grappling with increased cases of armed crime.
Phiri said Magrim was also planning to team up with well-wishers in a drive aimed at raising funds for the two’s defence in what will be Malawi’s first court case on homosexuality.
“We have always said that Malawian homosexuals have been suffering in silence for a long time, and our pleas have always fallen on deaf ears. Look at what is happening now; this is harassment and an infringement on personal freedoms, as enshrined in the United Nations’ 1948 Declaration of Human Rights. We have organized a demonstration scheduled for Friday in Blantyre,” said Phiri.
The Magrim publicist revealed that the demonstration will take place on Friday, and will start from Upper Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre at 08:30am, and end at the Old Town Hall in Blantyre City Centre.
“Let all gays and lesbians come out in the open and fight for their rights. This is also an opportunity for us to challenge our repressive laws. We are also asking lawyers wishing to stand up for human rights to contact us; we have special arrangements for them,” he said.
He said it was very unfortunate that the two were arrested while the government has recently been making statements that it has been failing to reach out to the gay community because they are operating underground.
However, there are mixed reactions over the gays’ arrest, with the Christian community condemning their “regrettable” action and some regal minds saying the Malawian penal code is very open on the matter.
Blantyre based evangelist Reverend Sylvester Chabuka said he was very disappointed with the stand that the two people chose to take saying it was morally ‘rotten and inhuman’.
He said while the Malawian constitution does not allow discrimination of some groups of society there was need for Malawians to be cautious on behaviors they are copying from what he described as ‘western elements’.
However, a prominent Blantyre lawyer said the actions of the two did not warrant any arrest.
He said that the Malawi penal code was drafted at a time Malawi was still a closed society and there was need to loosen up some of the strict provisions.
Southern region police publicist Davie Chingwalu has since said the two have not been charged.
“We are still questioning them, after which we will determine what to do with them,” said Chingwalu.
Meanwhile, the two are expected to appear before the Blantyre Magistrates Court on Wednesday, with Magrim imploring the homosexual community to patronize the court and stand up for one of their own.

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