Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fighting Gay Persecution In Africa Through All Means

In the last week, we have continued to build up pressure on the Malawi on the case of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the gay couple who has been in police detention since 29th December 2009 charged for being gay. And yesterday, African Lesbians and Gays UK, with the support of OutRage demonstrated in front of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

In the weeks preceding the March 22nd (yesterday) verdict in court, we wrote to the Commonwealth and Malawi High Commission, to our MPs and MEPs and the Foreign office. Response from Baroness Kinnock, Minister of State for Africa sent to me via my MP, Diane Abbott and my local area London Assembly member, Jeanette Arnold both confirmed that the UK government is actively engaging Malawi in discussion about these two men. While the UK respects the sovereignty of Malawi, the Foreign Office has continued to make it clear that it is against this particular persecution and of gay people in general. This is where the Commonwealth has failed.

In my speech at the demonstration, and in line with the letter we sent to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, I did not mince words in explaining the repugnancy we the gay people of African descent feel at Commonwealth's silence. In practice, one would not be far from the truth in thinking that the Commonwealth supports discrimination of Lesbian and Gay people.

Although Steven and Tiwonge were not handed the 14 years imprisonment on Monday at the court session, it is even more debilitating to think that they still await the same fate after the verdict was postponed to April 3rd 2010 and are now back to detention.

Watching the video of them going to court on Monday in Malawi, I realised that there is need to continue working hard and raising the concern to whoever one can. If you live in the UK, your MPs would listen to you, please ask them to sign EDM 564 presently in the UK Parliament which calls on the house to engage the president of Malawi to order the immediate release and drop of charges against these men.

If you live outside UK, also your local area representatives; Senators, House of Representatives Members, Members of Parliament, Councillors, etc are there to listen to you. It is your right to send them requests with your opinions on national and international issues. The more Malawi receives these requests, the more it is likely to understand that the world has moved and is more tolerant and against discrimination and injustice.

We will not rest nor drop our fight until we have achieved victory. Any help is needed. You can also do well to sign our petition requesting the Commonwealth to stand up and declare its position on what is going on in its member states.

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