You would think things would be different in 2021, alas! In most African Countries like Malawi, Homosexuality is still considered a taboo, something evil, unnatural and un African. Being openly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Queer(LGBTQ) can result in arrest, imprisonment, public humiliation, harm and even death. June is here to remind us again what we deliberately chose to ignore or cancel time and again, the fact that Homosexuals have always existed and will continue to exist in our society and they, as human beings also have rights. Each and every year the LGBTQ Community joined by other individuals, celebrates pride month to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in Manhattan, United States of America, which were triggered by police raids. The whole month is celebrated with a series of events like picnics, symposiums, concerns, parades many other activities.
Since 1891_when homosexuality was illegalized, there hasn’t been any real progress made regarding the decriminalization of homosexuality. As a country, we appear be taking one step forward only to follow it up with one step backwards. We have all witnessed how the “supposedly” inclusive “Tonse” administration has been tiptoeing around the subject. Like its predecessors, it remains unclear and shows no interest in resolving the matter once and for all. Remember in November 2012, the former president, Joyce Banda suspended all laws that criminalized homosexuality while at the same time not taking a bold step of recognizing same sex unions and legalizing homosexuality? We also witnessed how another former president Peter Muthalika, made a public statement proclaiming that he wanted gay rights protected and there after proposed a referendum on decriminalizing homosexuality and legalizing same sex unions, that never happened until today. All this just proves that there really hasn’t been any political will to decriminalize homosexuality.
You might say “But the laws are not even enforced and no one has been arrested since 2012”, well, the fact that there are laws criminalizing it promotes stigma, gives people the justification and the backing they need to carry out homophobic acts. Homosexuals continue to be treated as lesser beings by the society, the outcasts, the criminals, the morally corrupted, and the stains in the “perfect”? Society. They face the worst kind of discrimination in the society. We see the videos where they are publicly harassed, we cheer on as we see them being harmed , make derogatory remarks, comment and unabashedly spread hate messages, myths and words embedded in homophobia, we have heard of scenarios where the police have bullied them and the health care providers have shun them.
Our country has to protect its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. A major and bold step would be forming and implementing laws and policies which protect Queer people. This June, as different organizations and individuals continue to lobby for the decriminalization of homosexuality, let us be kind to one another. We look forward to this year's Pride Month activities.
“If you can’t support them, at least don’t hurt them”
Happy Pride Month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!