Malawi : The parliament recommends referendum on same-sex marriages

Religious leaders in Malawi led street protests against same-sex marriage, as a Dutch citizen and a transgender Malawian challenge laws in Malawi’s High Court against same-sex relations.

Hundreds of people in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, gathered to protest what they call the potential legalization of same-sex marriage in the country.

The protesters came from both of the country’s major religions — Christianity and Islam.

Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa led the protests in Blantyre. He said same-sex marriages are a sin, and allowing such unions would lead to the extinction of the human race : « If we change the way we live as a family, it means we will cease to exist, » he said. « If we continue to marry a man with a man, surely the offspring, no children will come, then no life in the world, no life in Malawi. »

Homosexuality is an offense in Malawi and punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

However, civil society organizations have voiced concerns about discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in the country.

Eric Sambisa, executive director for Nyasa Rainbow Coalition, which fights for the rights of LGBTQ people in Malawi, said it is sad that religious leaders are fostering discrimination.

While parliament recommends a referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, civil society organizations say human rights should not be subject to a popular vote. From the capital, Lilongwe.

The future of same-sex marriage in Malawi is uncertain. It is possible that the laws could be challenged again in court, or that the constitution could be amended to allow same-sex marriage. However, it is also possible that the laws will remain in place for many years to come.

The fight for same-sex marriage in Malawi is a long and difficult one. However, the activists who are fighting for this right are determined to succeed. They believe that everyone has the right to marry the person they love, regardless of their sexual orientation.

David Makani

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