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Stop stigma, discrimination against LGBTIQ -CHRR, CEDEP

By Lovemore Khomo

Some of the human rights organisation in Malawi have urged Tonse government to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and put an end to criminalization and victimization of people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

This comes as the world commemorates the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia which falls on 17th May on each and every year under the theme: Either Always: United in Diversity.

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states clearly that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” which concurs with Section 20 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi which clearly explains that “Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status or condition.”

In a joint statement, Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation-CHRR and Center for Development of People – CEDEP signed by CHRR Executive Director Micheal Kaiyatsa and CEDEP Executive Director Gift Trapence have called for concerted efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination, which result in violent attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals in the country.

“This theme is a timely reminder that all human beings, regardless of who they are, whom they love, and how they see and define themselves, are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” reads part of the statement.

The two have commended positive developments taken by the Malawi government, such as the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities as key populations in the Malawi National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS (2020 –2025).

However, they have expressed deep concern over continued violence, stigma and discrimination towards LGBTIQ individuals in the country, which continue to undermine effective responses to HIV among this group and taint Malawi’s human rights record.

“Of late, we have noted with deep sadness a rise in anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric, following the decision by the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of outlawing homosexuality. We note with deep sadness that most of this rhetoric is being fuelled by disinformation and false narratives being promoted by some religious groups in the country.”

It adds that it is unacceptable that almost three decades after Malawi adopted a democratic constitution that guarantees rights for everyone, human rights continue to be violated on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

The two organisations have also expressed disappointment as Malawi Government rejected all recommendations on Sexual orientation and gender identity during the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of Malawi in November 2020.

The statement elaborates that, “This was a missed opportunity to cement gains on the promotion and protection of human rights for all citizens equally.

“We call upon the Chakwera administration to uphold the inherent dignity of all persons, without discrimination, by adopting measures to eradicate the discrimination, exclusion, intolerance, hatred, violence, victimisation and criminalisation of LGBTIQ persons.”

Kaiyatsa and Trapence have therefore called upon Government to review the National Human Rights Action Plan of 2018 to smoothly uphold rights of minority groups in the country.

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