The Malawian minister of information, Leckford Mwanza Thotho said his government is pleased with the conviction Tuesday of a homosexual couple for “gross indecency” and “unnatural acts.”
Twenty-year old Tiwonge Chimbalanga and 26-year old Steven Monjeza were arrested last December after holding a symbolic same sex wedding. Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the two men will be sentenced tomorrow (Thursday).
Minister Mwanza Thotho said the verdict proves homosexuality is against Malawian culture.
“What we are saying is that the ruling or the court proceeding as of today, reflects our tradition in Malawi. It just shows that the gay issue is against our culture in Malawi,” he said.
Thotho said the verdict also came as a relief for the hundreds of Malawians who packed the courtroom Tuesday.
“They were happy that they (the court) had ruled in favor of the majority of Malawians. It came as a relief, at least, to make sure that our traditions are not tampered with,” Thotho said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday the United States was deeply disappointed by the conviction and viewed criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity as a step backward in the protection of human rights in Malawi.
Crowley called on the Malawian government to respect the human rights of all of its citizens.
But, Information Minister Thotho said just as polygamy is not allowed in the United States, so, too, should homosexuality not be permitted in Malawi.
“What I’m trying to say is if polygamy is not allowed in America and we have not forced you to do that for the sake of human rights…so, if other countries allowed polygamy, and we say you have to allow polygamy for the sake of human rights, we are not doing fair to your situation in America. So, it’s the same thing with our country. Homosexuality is a taboo in Malawi,” Thotho said.
He said Western countries should understand Malawi’s situation and should not use the threat of withholding aid to force Malawi to accept homosexuality.
Thotho said the Malawian government has every right to defend its constitution and protect its citizens.
“I think what we must understand is every country has got its traditions and culture which they have to follow, and if there is something very strange in nature which would have a very negative impact on the country, I think it is the duty of government to uphold the constitution and laws of that country,” Minister Thotho said.