|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Three civil society organisations working for LGBTI rights issued a statement last week calling on religious leaders in Malawi to preach love and tolerance. The statement challenged Samuel Chilenje, the founder of Jesus Pentecostal Church Apostle in Lilongwe, after he said homosexuals deserve to die in his Easter sermon.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) and Malawi Religious Leaders Living and Affected by HIV and AIDS (Manerela+):
A statement signed by Undule Mwakasungula of CHRR, Rev MacDonald Sembereka of Manerela+ and Gift Trapence of CEDEP reads: "The faith community must also remember that they have the duty to promote love and tolerance among people of different religions, cultures and beliefs.
"Religious leaders or groups should not be the first to cast the stone of hate and discrimination against minority groups. We are all children of God, regardless of our personal circumstances or difference," reads the statement.
The three rights activists also challenged government and Chilenje that Malawi does recognise same sex relationships.
"We would like to challenge the government that their empty political rhetoric that same sex relations are inexistent in Malawi is contrary to what their principles and technocrats state.
Firstly, we would like to challenge government that the issue of sexual minorities is not new to them and as there is documented evidence that the Malawi Government has previously participated on this issue at the United Nation's level," the statement reads.
The activists also say President Bingu wa Mutharika's pardon of the same sex couple Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza was a sign of his realisation of the constitutional and international human rights law errors surrounding such conviction.
"It is, therefore, hypocritical for the government to pretend that the issue of sexual minorities is not worth comprehensive approach," the statement reads.
The statement challenges Samuel Chilenje, the founder of Jesus Pentecostal Church Apostle in Lilongwe, after he said homosexuals deserve to die in his Easter sermon:
Delivering his Easter message on Sunday in Malawi's capitol...Chilenje said minority rights do not exist because homosexuality and lesbianism are against God "and anything against God is not right."…
Chilenje said Malawi should not risk being punished by God because some people who are promoting same sex rights which are against God’s Word.
“God punished Sodom and Gomorrah because of gay and lesbianism. Do we want God to punish Malawi because of same sex rights? The Bible says that everybody indulging in same sex acts must be put to death by stoning. Even those promoting it deserve the same,” said Chilenje during a public Easter ceremony in Area 23 in Lilongwe.
The Malawi government recently claimed that Norwegian and Dutch funding of the Civil Society Organisations that issued the above statement is "being used by external forces to destabilize the government...These are the people who are being used as agents from the government’s enemies."