Some civil society organisations in Malawi have decried government’s inaction on calls to repeal the country’s laws that criminalise same-sex relationships.
The sentiments come in the wake of an exclusive interview Weekend Nation edition of August 13 had with a Malawian transgender who claims to have left the country following persecution.
Centre for the Development of People director Gift Trapence said yesterday despite government effecting a moratorium on anti-gay laws in 2012, violence and stigma against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community persist.
He said: “The rights of the LGBTI people continue to be violated. The new government rejected all recommendations at the United Nations on the protection of the LGBTI on violence, including access to justice.
“There have been cases of arrests of some LGBTI individuals. The new government is not respecting the moratorium. The moratorium has not been implemented; rather, it has just been on paper.”
Trapence said Cedep is, therefore, calling on the Tonse Alliance government to implement the moratorium by ensuring that there is proper communication to the police on the same.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Michael Kaiyatsa decried what he called government’s lack of commitment to address issues pertaining to the rights of the LGBTI community.
He said: “As the country’s laws are, they threaten the existence of the LGBTI people and most of them fail to identify themselves for fear of stigma and violence; hence, the need to review the laws.”
Kaiyatsa also said it is difficult for government to reach the LGBTI community with services such as HIV and Aids interventions since most of them hide themselves for fear of persecution.
Sections 137, 153 and 154 of the Penal Code outlaw indecent acts and sexual acts contrary to the order of nature.
Attempts to talk to Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda proved futile as his phone went unanswered.
However, the AG recently admitted that he was aware of the moratorium government put in place in 2012 on arrests of LGBTI community.
“All I can say is that I heard that there is a moratorium on the anti-gay laws, but I need to find out progress on the matter,” he said.
Speaking in the exclusive interview with Weekend Nation, the transgender, who declined to be named, opened up on the struggles he faced in Malawi when his community learnt about his sexual orientation.
“In Malawi, if you are LGBTI, you cannot love in peace, you cannot drink in peace, you cannot do anything in peace because the hate is just [too much],” he said.
In 2009, police arrested the country’s openly gay couple of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza for engaging in homosexuality.
They were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment which sparked national and international condemnation.
Former president Bingu wa Mutharika later pardoned them following an intervention from the then United Nations General Secretary Ban ki Moon, who visited the country to find a solution to the matter.