Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SADC NGO's pressure Malawi on gay couple

About thirty-five Southern African non-governmental organizations want arrested gay couple Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza released without condition. The NGOs argue the arrest and trial on suspected homosexuality compromises the fight against HIV/AIDS and mostly violates fundamental rights.
Under sections 153 and 156 of the Penal Code, homosexuality is against the laws of Malawi.

“These laws must be repealed as they are discriminatory,” said the NGO’s umbrella body, Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa.

Last week Malawi’s lawmakers meeting in the capital Lilongwe bashed European parliamentarians of trying to work against the enshrined laws of a sovereign state. Leader of the Parliamentary group on legal affairs challenged the British and Scottish chambers not to enforce their moral and cultural belief on the people of Malawi.

The House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM 564) moved that the arrest of the two has already caused the couple abuse, humiliation and violence while being held at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre City. Medical and psychological reports indicate Chimbalanga is a man and not a woman, and is mentally stable after examinations.

Earlier, Minister of Information and Civic Education, Honourable Ledford Thotho said no matter what happens, Malawi was a sovereign state and homosexuality was an immoral and criminal act under the country’s laws. The religious and traditional leaders echoed his sentiments.

However, local NGOs have distanced themselves from being secretly funded by pro and anti gay organizations from western civil rights organizations.

The Evangelical Association of Malawi (ECM), through General Secretary Reverend Francis Mkandawire, said this was news to them and that Malawi’s moral and spiritual values should be respected under the laws.

In a different development, former advisor on Christian matters to President Bingu wa Mutharika, Reverend Malani Mtonga, expressed his group, Church Foundation for Integrity and Democracy (CFID), bent at promoting religious and democratic values, would see no problem in receiving aid to help the organization sensitize the masses on the evils of homosexuality.

“If there is a lobby with the same vision ready to fund, there is no problem to accept to pass on messages to the public,” he said.

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