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Malawi VP: Addressing Gays Crucial In Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Jim Burroway

September 29th, 2010

Malawi’s Vice President Joyce Banda urged a gathering of religious leaders in the commercial capital of Blantyre to address the needs of LGBT people in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Banda’s remarks were delivered to a meeting of the Malawi Interfaith Association, which is meeting to discuss the increasing HIV infection rate among the clergy:

Banda said same-sex liaisons are a reality in Malawi saying there were Men Having Sex with fellow Men (MSMs) and that there were also lesbians, – Women Having Sex With Women.

“I am of the opinion that MIA is strategically positioned to bring faith leaders together to debate on how faith response to HIV and AIDS should reposition itself to tackle the issue of homosexuality without necessarily compromising moral integrity of faith institutions,” Banda a devout Christian said.

She said gays and lesbians are vulnerable groups and that they need to be paid attention by the clergy in the national response to fight HIV/Aids.

Is unclear how clergy might “pay attention” to LGBT people, given the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Malawi (punishable with up to fourteen years’ imprisonment) and widely condemned in society. Malawi gained worldwide attention with the arrest and conviction of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga following a traditional marriage ceremony earlier this year. The couple were finally pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika. He later described their attempted wedding as “satanic.” LGBT advocates and ordinary citizens have experienced official repression and witch hunts, according to local news media.



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