Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika

The Malawian government has been accused of scapegoating LGBTI people by apparently claiming that an anti-government protest on Wednesday was a “gay rights rally”.

There have been media reports that at least 12 people have been killed in riots in Malawi, which continued today, expressing growing opposition to the authoritarian government and its failed financial policies.

LGBT Asylum News said that local media and the government have claimed that the protests, organised by pro-democracy civil society groups, are being instigated by gay and lesbian organisations.

The government has had to raise taxes to accommodate cuts in aid to the country by foreign governments concerned over Malawi’s poor human rights policies and financial mismanagement.

A number of Malawian officials have blamed these moves by foreign governments on lobbying by LGBTI and human rights groups, labelling them “unpatriotic”.

Pop-star Madonna, who has adopted a child from Malawi and contributed funds towards aiding young girls in the country, spoke out about the unrest.

“I am deeply concerned about the violence today in Malawi, especially the devastating impact on Malawi’s children,” she said in a statement.

“Malawi must find a peaceful solution to these problems that allows donors to have confidence that their money will be used efficiently.”

Madonna also spoke out last year when a same-sex couple was arrested and imprisoned on charges of homosexuality in Malawi. The men were eventually pardoned after the country was put under international pressure.

In February, President Bingu Wa Mutharika hardened his stance against LGBTI equality and signed a bill into law adding lesbianism to the already criminalised act of sex between men. Those found guilty face prison sentences of up to 14 years.

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