DPP wants referendum on homosexuality
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said government should call for a national referendum to solicit views of Malawians on the issue of repelling legislation that virtually outlaws homosexuality.
But Minister of Information and Civic Society, Moses Kunkuyu has dismissed the call saying government already made its position clear that Malawians, through their MPs, are the ones who will decide on the matter.
The DPP's on Friday issued a statement after British pop music star and gay-rights advocate Elton John saluted President Joyce Banda for promising to review the country's anti-homosexuality laws. Elton John said this at the World Aids forum in the United States last week.
Upon taking office, President Banda told Malawians during her first state of nation address that the law which criminalizes 'unnatural sexual acts' will be reviewed, among other 'bad laws' which Malawi has on its books. She later clarified that the statement did not mean government had decided to repeal the law.
In the statement, signed by Secretary General Wakuda Kamanga, the DPP said that not all Malawians have accepted the notion of same-sex unions.
"Her Excellency Mrs. Banda made a commitment through the State of The Nation Address that her administration will repeal this law (against homosexuality).
Implicitly, the new administration is taking steps to push for a legal framework that turns Malawi into a pro-gay and homosexual nation.
"The DPP is deeply concerned with such steps that are happening outside the views of the people. DPP suggests that any repeal or amendment to such laws should take into account the voices of the people, and Malawians should be the ultimate decision makers on whether this country should open up to same sex relationships, gay marriages and similar affairs.
"While we appreciate that homosexuals are first and foremost human beings with equal rights like the right to life, right to education, right to economic activity, and others which should be guaranteed and protected, it is however too premature and careless to behave as if all Malawians have accepted the notion of homosexuality, gay marriage, lesbianism and same sex relationships. The party suggests that the president should call for a referendum on the issue."
However, Kunkuyu said DPP's statements was laughable saying the party should find better ways of making itself politically relevant and dismissed any possibility of a referendum.
"It's a shame we have to dignify their statement with a comment. It's just because they are talking about a national interest issue that we feel obliged to comment, but really what benefit does this cheap politicking do to the nation? The DPP had a clear 20-point petition with genuine concerns by Malawians, did they ever held a convention on any of the issues?"
He said the president already announced that she will let parliament debate the issue with sobriety.
The issue of gay rights in Malawi is emotive, entrenched by a conservative society and religious beliefs. Over two years ago, Malawi was put into world spotlight by the arrest and trial of a gay couple—Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. The two, who were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, were pardoned after donors exerted pressure on the government and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon jetted into the country to plead their case.