Malawi justice not fit for animals

By | 2010/05/21

Over in Malawi, a vile human rights violation was committed overnight. (Malawi is an small eastern African nation which borders Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.)

Now, the violation in question was the sentencing of two gay men who dared to express their love for one another to 14 years hard labour. Overall, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise for Africa; the continent overall has some of the harshest restrictions against homosexuals on the planet, with the vast majority of countries in that region having extreme laws against homosexuality. Indeed, quoting the SMH article on the sentencing:

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries. Nearby South Africa is the only country on the continent to recognise same-sex marriages.

Thirty-eight out of 53 countries criminalise consensual gay sex, which is punishable by death in some nations, according to Human Rights Watch.

Looking at coverage over at The Edge, in “Malawi: Gay couple found guilty“, we’re told:

Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries on the continent. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that would sentence homosexuals to life in prison and include capital punishment for “repeat offenders.” Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have carried out so-called “corrective” rapes on lesbians.

The trial of the two men has been a farcical exercise in homophobia at best. It also gives some perspective – I rail against the fact that until 2009 I couldn’t share federal medicare benefits with my partner, or that I still can’t legally get married to him, despite 14 years together. But I’m not at risk of being incarcerated by the state just because I’m attracted to the same sex.

The trial has also been an exposé into the ongoing failure of the churches in Africa to uphold what are espoused to be true christian virtues – acceptance, loving and forgiveness. Instead, we get (from the same SMH article):

But Protestant churches in Malawi have urged the government to uphold its ban on homosexuality, which religious leaders described as “un-Christian”.

I’d have thought that rabid homophobia where people get locked up and physically abused for being different would be far more “un-Christian”. Didn’t the Romans use to do similar things to a certain little monotheistic religious sect during the time of the emperors? They were rounded up, treated like scum, killed, beaten and otherwise mistreated. For being different. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t seem to have taught compassion towards people being mistreated. Then again, what do I know? After all, I’m just an atheist who believes that all life is special and that all people deserve equal rights.

So here’s my verdict: “Justice” in Malawi is not fit for animals, let alone human consumption.