Gays and lesbians in Malawi have formed the Malawi Gay Rights Movement (Magrim), as homosexuality is a criminal offence punishable by hard labour in their republic.

Magrim interim chairperson, Mc Leod (who has asked to have his surname kept from the press) said:

“What people must know is that Malawi has always had an active gay population, and these people have been meeting for a long time.

“Only that now we have decided to come forth because we want our views heard; we are Malawian citizens who should be protected like anyone else.

“Doesn’t our Republican constitution say everyone is equal, and that nobody is more equal than others?”

Calls by the Malawi Human Rights Resource centre in 2005 for gay rights were met with violent opposition. Mc Leod stated that this situation was “pathetic”:

“These people don’t understand, but we will fight on,” he continued.

“In fact, Malawi has an active population of 89, 000 homosexuals, and this we say because we meet, and have sexual intercourse.

“We have a place in Blantyre City Centre where we have been meeting for the past six years.” He added that it also had plans to begin outreach activities, starting this November, to sensitise people that homosexuality is natural, and no cause for shame.

The launch for the association, which reportedly has 3,890 members, is planned for 13th September 2008, with outreach work scheduled to begin in November.