By Phillip Pasula
MZUZU-(MaraviPost)-The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) says there is need for citizens in the country to start discussing issues regarding the minority sections of people including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and others.
This was disclosed at an interface meeting that took place on Tuesday at Mphatso Motel in the city of Mzuzu.
The meeting brought together the youth, religious leaders, medical practitioners, city council officials, police officers and Civil Society Organisations.
Director of Civil and Political Rights at MHRC, Peter Chisi, said people should start discussing the rights of such people and be open whether they are against such practices or not but such dialogue with help to foster tolerance.
“The debate about rights of LGBT persons has been there for quite some time but this debate has been suppressed and it is characterised by lack of openness and denial. As MHRC, we are aware that we stand for the rights of all persons. But we are also mindful that we have laws that criminalise same sex relationships to the extent that people involved in that can be arrested.
“We noted that in the meantime, members of LGBT face challenges because of the laws. The challenges include access to health services, being subjected to violence, discrimination and stigmatisation. Some of them have lost jobs and friends and some have even been evicted from rented apartments. We think this project can bring national dialogue and openness so that members of the LGBTQ can leave in harmony with the rest of the society,” said Chisi.
Chairperson for District Aids Coordinating Committee (DACC) for Mzuzu City and Mzimba North, Evans Katsirizika Mwale, said dialogue meetings like this one were very important.
“This is a very welcome issue which should be discussed openly so that MHRC can get the views of the people in terms of beliefs, culture that can be related to the law,” he said.
Bishop Silent Mtambo of Ebenezzer Foundation who is also Chairperson for Mzimba District Inter-Faith Aids Committee said the meeting was helpful.
“What we are discussing concerns man and as religious leaders, we are there to serve man physically, spiritually and emotionally. Discrimination is against biblical values. We need to be tolerant with each other regardless of what one believes in or practises,” remarked Bishop Mtambo.
At the meeting, it was revealed that there are such people in parliament and at the judiciary but names could not be mentioned. Similar meetings also took place in Nkhata-Bay, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba.
Recently, Deputy Speaker of Parliament in Uganda told a world meeting that Uganda can never pass laws to favour members of LGBT.
“In Uganda, issues of LGBT, homosexuality and abortion are issues that can never be accepted and we shall not pass laws which allow them. If people want to be members of LGBT, we have no problem. Let them go ahead with their life. But promotion of that in our country can never be accepted. And when I hear someone saying these are human rights, I tell you they can never be accepted in Uganda,” remarked the Ugandan Deputy Speaker of Parliament.