David Cameron’s remarks at the Commonwealth that Britain will withhold aid to countries that do not legalize gay rights have riled Malawi’s influential churches describing the country’s former colonial master as undemocratic
The southern African nation last year hit global headlines when it arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison a gay couple for holding a traditional engagement.
President Mutharika, facing mounting pressure from gay rights activists both local and international, released them from the maximum prison hours after meeting UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon.
“In all fairness, we do not believe that poor nations should be forced to swallow bitter pills which will make their stomachs seriously upset. We call upon UK government to prioritise governance issues other than this issue which we feel is not a priority in our view,” said Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) chairperson Bishop Dr. Joseph Bvumbwe said during a news conference.
Homosexuality in Malawi, like many African nations, is a criminal offence and carries a maximum of 14 years in prison.
Bvumbwe was flanked by Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) chairperson Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and the Catholic’s Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary Father George Buleya.
“We find Cameron’s statement unfortunate, unacceptable and provocative because they are forcing African nations to agree with their positions on these matters without allowing the African nations to decide for themselves as to what is good to their nations and what is acceptable to their people.
“While the UK may feel they have monopoly over material things, they do not necessarily have the monopoly over all wisdom regarding moral and spiritual matters. Wisdom is always collective and respects other people’s views that may be contrary to one’s own,” said Bishop Bvumbwe.
He said Malawian churches are surprised that instead of allowing participatory debate on the matter, the UK continues to use their financial muscle to force legalization of gay rights in poor
Chakwera said UK and USA should not victimise people in poor nations by denying them aid because they hold a contrary views on homosexuality issues.
“We would love to have a process to be started which should let Malawians determine their own position on this issue, rather than saying unless you legalise homosexuality, you will not receive aid. If they respect divergent views in western democracies, they should also respect divergent views in Africa,” said Chakwera.
Leaders to the just ended Commonwealth meeting in Perth failed to reach a resolution on gay rights prompting Cameron to issue the threats.
Britain is already withholding millions of dollars in aid to Malawi over a diplomatic spat with Malawi.
Since January this year no key donor has release any money to aid dependent Malawi citing concerns of minority rights (gay rights)