SA rights group condemns Malawi gay ruling

2010-05-19 11:51

A human rights group, Section27, today called on the South African

government to denounce the conviction of a gay couple in Malawi.


It wants the South African government to raise the matter with the

Southern African Development Community.


“We believe that the Malawian government needs to protect its

citizen’s rights,” said Section27 executive director Mark Heywood in a

statement.


The organisation was due to hold an “emergency picket” outside the

Malawian High Commission in Pretoria at 11am.


This followed the conviction in a Malawian court yesterday of gay

couple, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, for committing “unnatural

acts”.


They were arrested in December 2009 after celebrating their

engagement.


Heywood said continued action against gay, lesbian, bisexual and

transgender people in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Uganda was a gross violation of human

rights.


“In allowing this abuse to continue, the door has been opened to

reversing and retard progress on all human rights, including the right to

dignity and full social, legal and political equality for women and freedom of

expression and the media amongst others,” Heywood said.


The picket was aimed at drawing the world’s attention to the

matter.


The pair were due for sentencing tomorrow. They could face up to 14

years in jail.


“We hope that the Malawian ambassador and his government will hear

our voices and know that much louder protests will be heard across the world in

days to come.”


Section27, which incorporates the Aids Law Project, is a South

African-based public interest law centre.


According to its website, it seeks to influence, develop and use

the law to protect, promote and advance human rights.


It is named after section 27 of the Constitution, which covers

rights relating to health.

 

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