Some progress is being made in Malawi as two men who were sentenced to 14 years in prison have been pardoned. Their crime was being openly gay and participating in an engagement ceremony.
It’s unfortunate that it took international pressure and political pressure from the UK, Malawi’s largest donor, for President Bingu wa Mutharika to overturn the sentence. “These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws,” said President wa Mutharika who seemed to be more chiding than apologetic.
There were reports that the two men were “beaten up in jail” and one of the men, Mr. Chimbalanga, “was jeered by the public gallery as he lay on the floor” after collapsing in court.
While this one pardon may seem like a positive step, the right to live one’s life openly and freely despite sexual orientation needs to be extended to all citizens of Malawi in ordered to be considered a move towards victory of human rights. No one should be harassed or punished for his or her sexual orientation. Tolerance and understanding can go a long way only in a society that is understanding and one that protects its citizens.