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Malawi Church Leaders to Condemn Homosexual Behavior

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza are taken into custody after celebrating their engagement (photo by Lameck Masina)

Rev. Malani Ntonga of the Church Foundation for Integrity and Democracy says the church and the government cannot allow homosexuality to take root in Malawi

A verdict is expected Monday in the trial of a gay couple arrested in December for planning Malawi’s first same-sex wedding.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, but the arrest and imprisonment of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga has concerned donors who contribute over 80 percent of Malawi’s development budget.

Meanwhile, Malawi church leaders began a meeting Wednesday in Blantyre to understand what they call the phenomenon of same sex partners.

Reverend Malani Ntonga, chairman of the Church Foundation for Integrity and Democracy, said a communiqué is expected Thursday but that the general view during Wednesday's meeting is that the church should not allow homosexuality to take root in Malawi.

“We strongly believe that righteousness exalt the nation and now homosexuality it is an abomination before the eyes of God. It’s our responsibility as members of the clergy to guide our nation jealously with prayers to make sure that righteousness flows in our nation,” he said.

Reverend Ntonga said that as members of the clergy, they want to appeal to the Malawi government to also say no to homosexuality.

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika who is also current African Union chairman
Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika who is also current African Union chairman

“As members of the clergy we are saying no to homosexuality and we want to appeal as well to the government that they should not tolerate or accept this issue of homosexuality to get roots in our nation,” Ntonga said.

He said the anti-gay sentiment in Malawi and elsewhere around Africa is supported by passages from the Bible.

“The Book of Leviticus, Chapter 18, is telling us that man is not supposed to get married to another man or they are not supposed to have sexual intercourse with another man, which means that, and if you continue to read from that Book of Leviticus, Chapter 18 you will see that God will punish the nation which tolerates this type of abomination to take root in that nation,” he said.

Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries with the exception of South Africa where same sex marriage is legalized.

A proposed anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda has called for long jail terms or death penalty in some cases of homosexual intercourse.

President Barack Obama recently criticized the proposed Uganda legislation as “unconscionable”.

Reverend Ntonga said if donor nations want to fund Malawi with homosexual conditionality, then they should keep their funds.

“Malawi is a sovereign state. Of course we are poor and we might need their assistance, but let them assist us with what we want and not what they want and at the end of the day it will bring more calamities to our nation. So as members of the clergy we are saying if they are to fund us with this evil attached to the funds, let them keep their funds,” Ntonga said.

He said he’s positive the judge in the trial of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga would render a fair verdict.

Reverend Ntonga said the church is ready to pray with the two and embrace them if they are willing to turn away from their alleged homosexual tendency.

“We are not actually against fighting those individuals, but we against the actual sin of homosexuality. But those members who are involved in that, we are saying let them come and we will pray with them and counsel them and if they are ready to change their lives, we will embrace them as brothers and sisters,” Ntonga said.

He reiterated that God created a man and a woman to marry each other and not a man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman.

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is the current chairman of the African Union.