Saturday, July 24, 2010

Malawi must respect gay laws

Global leaders are on Malawi's neck to repeal homosexual and prostitution laws. The southern African country frowns on the act and culprits could land in jail. Gay couple sentenced to 14 years
The President of the Austrian Aids Society and Aids 2010 co-chairperson, Dr. Brigitte Schmied, strongly said countries such as Malawi need to respect the rights of gay and prostituting people by instead channeling resources to their treatment and care.

"Treatment, not persecution, prosecution and criminalization, is demanded. Repeal the homosexual laws," she emphasized. They believe such a move will help countries respond positively to the fight against HIV and accomplish the Universal Access to HIV care, treatment and support.

Minority and vulnerable groups, she added, are obstacles to controlling HIV/Aids in the world.

Dr. Julio Montaner, President of the International Aids Society (IAS) and Director for British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/Aids 2010 co-chairperson also called for African countries to decriminalize sex work.

"Sex work is work," he said. "There can be no end to the pandemic unless we secure full protection of human rights for those most vulnerable to HIV and Aids."

Malawi's laws criminalize prostitution and homosexuality. The two are also regarded as un-Godly acts that require divine intervention and practitioners are scorned upon by family members, the community, religious circles and the government.

Recently, an openly gay couple was pardoned in a presidential move after being arrested late last year. Prostitutes are also rounded up and arrested. Some are forced to undergo involuntary HIV testing.

Human rights activists demand that minority rights be recognized and that laws be made clear.

African News Online

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