Thank you Amnesty.
I think it would be appropriate for the UK (and international community) to withdhold all future development aid until Malawi a) releases this couple and b) implements legal rights to protect gay and other minority rights.
Another place we don’t want Pink taxes going.
28 JANUARY 2010
AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS CONDEMN CRIMINAL PROSECUTION IN MALAWI SAME-SEX CASE AND CALL FOR REPEAL OF DISCRIMINATORY LAWS AND DISMISSAL OF CHARGES
Over forty African civil society organizations, in a statement released today, expressed their deep concern at the imprisonment and prosecution of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga under provisions of Malawi’s penal code criminalizing private sexual behavior. They called on the Malawian government to drop all charges against both individuals and repeal the discriminatory criminal law.
On 28 December, police officers arrested Monjeza and Chimbalanga at their home, charging them under sections 153 and 156 of the Malawian penal code for “unnatural offences” and “indecent practices between males.” This happened two days after Monjeza and Chimbalanga conducted a traditional engagement ceremony, an event that was widely reported in the Malawian press. Chimbalanga was forced to undergo a medical examination to determine whether they had engaged in sexual intercourse, and both were subjected to a psychiatric evaluation. They have been denied bail and remain in custody.
The group of endorsers, which includes organizations from over a dozen African countries, warned that such criminal prosecution would greatly undermine efforts to respond effectively to the HIV pandemic, stating: “The charges against Monjeza and Chimbalanga have caused a widespread fear among persons engaged in same-sex relations—a group the Malawian government has recognized is vulnerable to discrimination and critical to its efforts to effectively respond to the HIV epidemic.”
According to media reports Dr. Mary Shawa, the Principal Secretary for Nutrition, HIV and AIDS in the Malawian President’s Office recently acknowledged the need to “incorporate a human rights approach in the delivery of HIV and AIDS services to…men who have sexual intercourse with men.” She further asked men who have sex with men [MSM] to come out in the open in order to assist in HIV prevention efforts.
The statement warns that “This cannot be done given recent statements by governmental officials denouncing MSM, which has served to further drive this already vulnerable community further underground.”
Discrimination against men who have sex with men has increasingly raised public health concerns in the African region, where HIV rates among this group are up to ten times that of the general population in large part because they are systematically marginalised in HIV prevention and treatment interventions due to politically driven hostility. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has previously warned that such discrimination is unethical and “makes no sense from a health perspective”.
The statement which was also supported by almost twenty additional individuals and international civil society organizations further highlighted how sections 153 and 156 of the penal code violated fundamental rights guaranteed under the Malawi Constitution, including the rights to be free from discrimination and human dignity.
Undule D.K. Mwakasungula, the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation in Malawi, stressed that “HIV and human rights cannot be separated. We need our governments to support progressive approaches to health that are not based on prejudiced notions of morality, but on evidence-based responses to the reality in our region.”
For further information please contact:
Undule D.K. Mwakasungula, + 265 999 664 176, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Malawi
Michaela Clayton, +264 81 127 2367, AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Namibia
Priti Patel, +27 76 808 0505, Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), South Africa