Paradise or persecution?

Paradise or persecution’ is a campaign by the International HIV/Aids Alliance. Actually, it is an online quiz (paradiseorpersecution.com) which aims to raise awareness of the more than 75 countries in the world that criminalise people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The online quiz highlights some of the dream holiday destinations that criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people and calls for action on the issue. It comes in the wake of research published in October by Open for Business, showing that people in the UK would be less likely to travel to countries that have laws that persecute LGBT people.

Malawi is not on the 10 question quiz. Countries such as Uganda, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago and the Gambia feature on it, but if Malawi was on the list; it would be ‘persecute’.

Last year, I was extremely saddened by the arrests of two people accused of sodomy in Lilongwe which carries a 14-year imprisonment sentence with hard labour if found guilty. But what really made me despair was the comments Malawians made when the American Embassy came out with a statement on Facebook about their stance on these arrests.

There is nothing I hate more than baseless arguments, arguments that are emotionally, poorly structured, use inappropriate language, lacking evidence or logic and are simply rants or regurgitations of meaningless babble which people have heard elsewhere. Yes, I support and believe in equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. De-friend me on Facebook, better yet send me ranting emails—I will ignore you! Or use this column to have a verbal spar with you.

SPOILER ALERT! The online quiz shows brilliant photos of holiday destinations and asks whether the destination persecutes LGBTs or is a paradise. It highlights Morocco, the land of spices and allure, which imprisoned two men for four months just for standing next to each other as they posed for a photograph. In the Gambia, gay people who are arrested endure torturous treatment in prison by group called the ‘The Junglers’. A picturesque photo of the lush green hills of Uganda belies a strong homophobic government.

So is Malawi paradise or persecution? And why?

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