Breaking: Malawi holds first Gay pride parade

Homosexuality Malawi

Malawi is today hosting the first ever gay parade as part of the Pride Month celebration.

The Pride parade, a show of resilience against anti-gay laws in one of the most homophobic countries in the world, was held in the Capital, Lilongwe.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex – LGBTI community led by Nyasa Rainbow Alliance marched from Area 18 Glass House to Civic Offices in City Centre.

The marchers presented a petition in which they are demanding government to recognize and protect the LGBTI community. They also want same sex marriages to be legalized improvement in access to health.

Principal Administrative Officer for Lilongwe City Council, Hudson Kuphanga received the petition and he assured the LGBTI community that the petition will be sent to the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The petition has also been addressed to to Ministry of Justice, UN resident Coordinator, Malawi Human Rights Commission – MHRC, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Malawi Law Commission and diplomats.

In 2010, Malawi  handed over a 14-year prison sentence to the first gay couple to have come out publicly.

The couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested in December 2009 after celebrating their engagement ahead of a wedding planned for 2010.

Their arrest had sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country.

Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa convicted both men of engaging in gay sex, which he said was “against the order of nature”.

In his judgement, he ruled that he wanted to protect the public from “people like you” when he handed the couple a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with hard labour.

The case had sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country, with donors describing the judgement as “horrendous”.

The then president, Bingu wa Mutharika, pardoned the couple after meeting with the then UN Secratry General Ban Ki-moon.

Ban ki-Moon hailed the president’s decision as “courageous” and pleaded with the couple reform what he described as an “0utdated penal code” which were introduced in Malawi by the Colonial British government.

Bingu’s brother, President Peter Mutharika who defeated President Joyce Banda in 2014 presidential elections suspended the gay laws in 2015.

The decision that irked the public.

But the younger Mutharika retained the moratorium imposed on the anti-homosexual laws pending a decision on whether to repeal the legislation.

The laws remain suspended today.