Posts Tagged 'Malawi'

Malawi High Court weighs overturning anti-gay law

Repost from Erasing 76 Crimes

Malawi’s anti-gay law faced a new challenge this week as the Malawi High Court decided to review the constitutionality of the country’s ban on  homosexual intercourse.

That law has been on hold since November 2012, when Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara has called for a moratorium on arrests and prosecutions related to homosexual activity.  He later denied reports about that decision, but no arrests have been reported since then.

Earlier in 2012, President Joyce Banda called for the repeal of the law, but she later announced that Malawian legislators were not ready to go along with her on that plan. Continue Reading

Millennium Challenge Corporation Places Operational Hold on Malawi Compact

Millennium Challenge CorporationFor Immediate Release
July 26, 2011
Contact: Nasserie Carew
202 521-7258 (office)
202 631-7117
carewnm@mcc.gov

Millennium Challenge Corporation Places Operational Hold on Malawi Compact

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a U.S. Government agency that provides development assistance to countries that demonstrate a commitment to good governance.  At the core of an MCC partnership is the expectation that countries maintain a demonstrated commitment to political pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law throughout the life of the program.  MCC is deeply concerned by recent events in Malawi and is placing an immediate hold on all program operations in order to review its partnership with Malawi, including whether to recommend to its Board of Directors to suspend or terminate its assistance.

MCC signed a five-year, $350 million Compact with the Government of Malawi on April 7, 2011.  The Compact is focused on Malawi’s power sector and is expected to benefit nearly 6 million Malawians.  By reducing power outages and technical losses, enhancing the sustainability and efficiency of hydropower generation, and improving service to electricity consumers, the Compact is designed to reduce energy costs to enterprises and households; improve productivity in the agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors; and support the preservation and creation of employment opportunities in the economy.

MCC’s operational hold will bring to a halt all ongoing Compact activities during the review.

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Related article: In Malawi, LGBT rights activists ‘in hiding’

U.S. Condemns Violent Disruption of Protests in Malawi

July 21, 2011

For immediate release and posting: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

STATEMENT BY HEIDE BRONKE FULTON, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

U.S. Condemns Violent Disruption of Protests in Malawi

The United States strongly condemns the use of force by Malawian authorities on July 20 to prevent their own citizens from exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully as well as the ban imposed on media reporting of the confrontations.  Denying the right of people to protest peacefully is unacceptable. We are disturbed by reports of violence targeting individuals on account of their political or social affiliations.  We are also troubled by the announcement from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) banning all private radio stations from covering the demonstrations. In light of continued rioting and rumors of retaliation, we urge restraint from both sides.

The Malawian people are guaranteed the right to peaceful association and freedom of expression in their constitution.  The Government’s attempt to prohibit its citizens from marching, and the regulator’s ban on independent media coverage undermine democracy and the rule of law that Malawians cherish and are seeking to protect.  We recall the words of President Mutharika at the April 7 Millennium Challenge Corporation signing ceremony in Lilongwe, that he “will continue to adhere to and uphold democracy and good governance, freedom of expression, freedom of association” and other fundamental freedoms enshrined in Malawi’s constitution.

The United States calls on the people and the Government of Malawi to remain committed to the principles of democracy and to express disagreements through peaceful means.

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Related Posts: In Malawi, more scapegoating of LGBT as riots erupt

Malawi Government Targets NGOs Working for LGBTI Human Rights

Council position on suspension of $350 million in development assistance to Malawi

Sex Between Women Now a Crime in Malawi: New Law Violates Human Rights Obligations of Malawi

In Malawi, more scapegoating of LGBT as riots erupt

Repost from LGBT Asylum News

Last week the British government announced that it was withdrawing budget support from the Malawian government. The move followed a diplomatic spat but the UK Foreign Office (FCO) blamed Malawi’s increasing authoritarianism for their decision.

Germany, Denmark and other countries have cut their aid to Malawi citing a poor governance record.

Malawi has form on blaming LGBT for aid withdrawals, and some governments and bodies have cited concerns on LGBT rights in their consideration of aid to the country – but they have never been more than a footnote to the same sorts of issues cited by the FCO.

Now Malawi’s government and media has labeled an opposition protest a “gay rights rally”. It banned today’s protest against the state of the economy, which resulted in riots and at least one death. Yesterday, ruling party supporters, who have been encouraged to violence by President Bingu wa Mutharika, threatened anyone who would dare join the protests and attacked two independent radio stations.

Of the two civil society leaders who have been most outspoken in support of LGBT human rights who took part in the protests, Undule Mwakasungula Human Rights Consultative Commitee (HRCC) chairperson was beaten and and executive director of Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) Gift Trapence arrested then released.

Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality said:

“Once again we see that an increasingly authoritarian government is trying to deflect attention away from legitimate public grievances and economic hardships by blaming the protests on gay rights supporters. The protests today were not about gay rights, they were about good governance and human rights for all citizens. Continue reading ‘In Malawi, more scapegoating of LGBT as riots erupt’

Malawi Government Targets NGOs Working for LGBTI Human Rights

repost from African Activist

In less than 20 days after the United States unfroze $350 million in foreign aid to Malawi, the government is claiming that Norwegian and Dutch funding of NGOs working for LGBTI human rights is “being used by external forces to destabilize the government…These are the people who are being used as agents from the government’s enemies.” Information and Civic Education Minister Vuwa Kaunda and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Dr George Chaponda handed the media a document with information about the donations.

The government is targeting two NGOs specifically: Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Center for the Development of People (CEDEP).Continue Reading Story.

Related: Millennium Challenge Corporation signs $350 million development assistance compact with Malawi

Council position on suspension of $350 million in development assistance to Malawi

In February the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government-funded development institution, suspended an agreement with Malawi, focused on energy sector development, based in part on concerns over a new law criminalizing consensual relations between women. (See news reports here.)

Read the Council’s position here

Sex Between Women Now a Crime in Malawi: New Law Violates Human Rights Obligations of Malawi

press release from International Commission of Jurists

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8 February 2011

Sex Between Women Now a Crime in Malawi: New Law Violates Human Rights Obligations of Malawi

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expresses grave disappointment at Malawi’s recent enactment of a law criminalizing sexual relations between women. Such a law is an affront to human dignity and seriously undermines Malawi’s human rights commitments under international law.

The ICJ urges that the Parliament undertake an immediate review with an eye to repealing all laws that currently criminalize sexual activity on the basis of the sex of the partners.

In December 2010, the Parliament passed a bill amending the Penal Code of Malawi. In late January 2011, President Bingu Wa Mutharika assented to the bill, thus completing its enactment into law. The new Section 137A, captioned “Indecent practices between females,” provides that any female person who, whether in public or private, commits “any act of gross indecency with another female” shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a prison term of five years.

“The criminalization of private sexual activity between consenting adults of the same sex, whether women or men, runs counter to Malawi’s obligations to protect the human rights of all citizens of Malawi, regardless of sexual orientation,” said Alli Jernow, Senior Legal Advisor for the Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Project. “If used to prosecute women for their private consensual sexual relationships, the new law threatens the universal rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.”

Speaking in Geneva last September, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated, “Laws criminalizing people on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity violate the principle of non-discrimination. They also fuel violence, help to legitimize homophobia and contribute to a climate of hate.”

The Republic of Malawi has turned a deaf ear to the calls of UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many others. Indecent practices between males are already criminalized in Malawi. Last May Tionge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were convicted of this offense and were sentenced to 14 years in prison before receiving a presidential pardon. By adding “indecent practices between females” to the Penal Code, the Republic of Malawi has not only acted contrary to its own human rights obligations, it has contributed to the severe stigmatization and discrimination experienced by gay and lesbian Malawians. All laws criminalizing consensual sexual activity between adult same-sex partners should be repealed.

read the full statement here

The first anniversary of the Malawi gay arrests

by David Jones, CEDEP-Malawi US Volunteer

Whether in December you celebrate Ashura, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, the Solstice, or the Gregorian or Islamic New Year, please remember Tiwonge Chimbalanga in your prayers.  Things are not going well.

We haven’t heard much lately, the result of a request to let quiet diplomacy work on asylum.

Meanwhile Tiwonge is suffering and safety is becoming a more relevant consideration than patience.

In recent weeks:  Tiwonge went to Blantyre to get her passport, stayed with a relative, a crowd gathered and circled the house, and the relative asked her to leave.  In Lilongwe Tiwonge had malaria and needed to see a doctor.  A threatening crowd gathered at the public health centre and she had to leave.  It happened again when Tiwonge needed to have a tooth pulled, and she had to sneak into a private clinic at night.

Tiwonge is hiding in a house in a neighborhood of Lilongwe.  The house is also used as an office.  The houses there are small.  The bedrooms are the size of many walk-in closets in the US.  There is no privacy and the strain on everyone is becoming enormous.  Recently when staff were away one night Tiwonge walked the short distance to a rough commercial area where there are shops, a traditional market, men hanging around fires looking for piecework, petrol stations, a truck stop and several bars.  She was recognized and seriously beaten, and had her only valuable possession stolen, her cell phone.

Since we cannot tell when there may be a response on asylum there is a discussion now of moving Tiwonge to South Africa for her safety.  There are organizations that may be able to host Tiwonge there and provide support while we wait (Malawians have easy entry into South Africa although the time she can spend there is limited, and there is a backlash against African immigration, so this is not a permanent solution.).  Moving may even strengthen her case by highlighting the clear risk to her safety in Malawi.  Discussions will begin on this option now.  If this is possible I may be asking you for help in moving Tiwonge.  MCC-New York has just made a donation to Tiwonge which will arrive just in time for Christmas!

December 28th will be the first anniversary of the Malawi gay arrests.  Please take some note of this.  Tiwonge was pardoned but is not free.  Tiwonge is still confined, and living with emotional trauma and physical danger.

Please take some time this December to try to send Tiwonge some strength as you celebrate in your own way this season’s hope for new beginnings.

Gays in Africa face growing persecution, activists say

repost from the Washington Post

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post | Foreign Service
Sunday, December 12, 2010; A12

KAMPALA, UGANDA – Persecution of gays is intensifying across Africa, fueled by fundamentalist preachers, intolerant governments and homophobic politicians. Gay people have been denied access to health care, detained, tortured and even killed, human rights activists and witnesses say.

The growing tide of homophobia comes at a time when gays in Africa are expressing themselves more openly, prompting greater media attention and debates about homosexuality. The rapid growth of Islam and evangelical forms of Christianity, both espousing conservative views on family values and marriage, have persuaded many Africans that homosexuality should not be tolerated in their societies.

“It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent,” said Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in Cape Town. “Homophobia is on the rise.”

Fearing for their lives, many activists are in hiding or have fled their countries.

In Uganda, a bill introduced in parliament last year would impose the death penalty for repeated same-sex relations and life imprisonment for other homosexual acts. Local newspapers are outing gays, potentially inciting the public to attack them, activists say.

A day after a newspaper article said that gays should be hanged, Sheila Hope Mugisha became a target. As the prominent gay rights activist neared her home, she said, boys from the neighborhood threw stones at the gate and chanted, “You are a homo.” Mugisha ran inside and locked the door. She didn’t leave for several days.

“Here, homosexuality is like you have killed someone,” she said.

American gay activists have sent money to help the community here. Western governments – including aid donors – have vocally criticized the bill and denounced the treatment of gays.

That has angered conservative pastors here, many of whom are influenced by American anti-gay Christian groups and politicians who say that African values are under attack by Western attitudes. They say their goal is to change the sexual behavior of gays, not to physically harm them.

“In Uganda, we look at homosexuality as an abomination. It is not normal,” said Nsaba Butoro, Uganda’s minister on ethics and integrity and a vocal supporter of the bill. “You are talking about a clash of cultures. The question is: Which culture is superior, the African one or the Western one?” Continue Reading

Malawi’s parliament has adopted a bill criminalizing consensual sex between women

Malawi’s parliament has adopted a bill criminalizing consensual sex between women. Malawi’s President must now decide whether to sign the bill into law. Malawi’s penal code currently prohibits homosexual relations between men but not between women.

http://www.nyasatimes.com/national/malawi-law-to-further-criminalize-homosexuality-slammed.html


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