Gay rights activists have been invited to meet with Malawi’s President at the State House later this month, it has been reported.

The newly formed gay group Magrim will have an audience with President Bingu wa Mutharika, claims the Nyasa Times.

The paper reported that Magrim is offering 10m Malawian kwacha (£40,345) in funds for MPs standing for election who support gay rights.

Malawi is scheduled to hold legislative and Presidential elections in May 2009.

“Malawi gays association is behind the Presidential candidacy of the incumbent because we have managed to launch successfully under his leadership,” said Magrin spokesperson said, according to the Nyasa Times.

“We are Malawians, this is our country, and, apart from it, we have nowhere to live.

“Why are some ill-informed individuals worried about something that does not concern them; it is very unfair to us.

“All we want is love and peaceful co-existence because we did not wish to be gays, it is natural.

“While others may claim to be gays as a means of showing off, to most of us it is natural, like heterosexuality, and we are happy to be what we are.

“Gay rights are human rights, and people must come to terms with that fact. Whether one likes it or not, we have homosexuals in Malawi, and these people are now ready to stand for their rights.

“We plan to establish branches, so that we reach as many people as possible. I tell you, Malawi has a lot of gay people who have remained oppressed over the years by outdated laws but are now ready to stand up for their rights.

“Suppressing us is like imposing a new form of colonialism.”

The allegations that a gay rights group is planning to fund candidates for election has stoked controversy on the paper’s comments board.

Magrim claims that Malawi has an active population of 89,000 homosexuals, and reports about the group’s activities have appeared regularly in the Nyasa Times.

Magrim was launched last monrh as a public campaign group after six years underground.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Malawi, punishable by hard labour.