Gay rights are human rights

The arrest of 21-year-old gay rights campaigner in Malawi described by the BBC as ‘gay-poster man’ is just one more step in the targeting of the LGBT community in that southern African country.

The reason for Peter Sawali’s arrest: putting up a poster asserting that ‘gay rights are human rights’ – somehow not too unlike Amnesty’s slogan ‘love is a human right’ in fact.  

And David Smith writing in the Guardian points out that Mr Sawali’s arrest may be the first in ‘a chain of people’ who are targeted by authorities for defending the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender people in Malawi. Indeed this potential new wave of arrests is coming hot on the heels of the trial of the first openly gay couple in Malawi. That trial is still ongoing and could lead to a 14-year prison sentence.

Amnesty’s been calling for the immediate and unconditional release pretty much from the start for this couple and will continue to monitor the trial of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga closely.

Malawi’s not the only African country which is clamping down on gay rights – further up the continent Uganda’s government is still pressing ahead towards a draconian anti-homosexuality  Bill which may lead to the death penalty for consensual gay sex.

You may have seen last night’s special report by Tim Whewell on BBC Newsnight about the anti-gay attitude that’s pervasive in many areas of the church and government in the country.  Last month, Amnesty analysed the proposed Uganda Bill and found that it is excessively broad, imprecise, arbitrary and open to abuse. If passed, Amnesty warned that it could have a serious impact on the lives of individual Ugandans, in particular human rights defenders and public health professionals.

We’ll be monitoring the situation in both Malawi and Uganda and do keep an eye out on our LGBT page for more information on this.
 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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