Pic: ECM Communications Department
Christian leaders have led hundreds of people in marches to demonstrate against legalising homosexuality and abortion in Malawi.
Under the banner of the Citizen March for Life and Family, the events were held in a number of cities across the country on Tuesday.
The marches were organised by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM).
The Times and the Nyasa Times reported that the protests attracted people from various denominations, including priests from the Catholic Church and Rastafarians, as well as a number of politicians.
Marchers held up signs proclaiming, “Homosexuality is an Abomination B4 God” and “Man + Woman = Marriage,” and a host of anti-abortion messages.
According to the ECM, parliamentarian Julliana Lunguzi received a petition on behalf of parliament. “I am a Catholic, a woman and at the same time a professional nurse and I wouldn’t accept the abortion bill and same sex marriages. Pray for us so that we are guided by the Holy Spirit when we are in the august house,” she said.
Musician and MP Lucius Banda reportedly released a single the night before the march, in which he condemned the rumoured abortion bill as well as same-sex marriage.
While activists have called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, there have been no moves or campaigns to legalise same sex-marriage in Malawi; a fact which religious leaders have ignored. They have instead used the contentious issue to drum up hysterical opposition against the LGBTI community; a strategy also seen in other African nations.
The status of LGBTI people in Malawi remains unclear. In December last year, Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu announced a moratorium on the arrest of Malawians for having gay sex, which carries a penalty of 14 years in prison.
In February, however, a group called the Young Pastors Coalition of Malawi took the matter to the High Court in Mzuzu, which ruled that the government could not suspend laws and that only Parliament may do so; leaving the community in limbo.
In October, Malawi’s government said it would block an attempt by American kill-the-gays pastor Steven Anderson to set up a branch of his homophobic church in the country.
With regard to abortion, government spokesperson Malison Ndau has denied claims that a bill to allow the termination of pregnancy has been drafted. He explained that the Malawi Law Commission had compiled a report on the issue which only has the status of recommendations and has yet to be submitted to cabinet for review.