Malawi Human Rights Concern as Mutharika Silent on Sexual Minorities

With Homophobia and violence on rise

By Melanie Nathan September 26, 2014.

Arthur Peter Mutharika
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) partnered with Centre for Development of People (Cedep) for 100 day Report on the new President.

On 7th September 2014, Professor Peter Mutharika clocked 100 days of in office , and as a tradition as well as in fulfillment of its human rights and watchdog obligation, The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) partnered with Centre for Development of People (Cedep) to provide an assessment of Mutharika’s performance, in the first 100 days of office, from a human rights perspective. The report was issued on 8th September 2014.

Here is an excerpt from CHRR and Cedep, reflecting their assessment for the first 100 days of  Mutharika’s governance in Malawi. The full report provides a picture on the current socio- political context in Malawi following Mutharika’s ascendance to power. CHRR asserts it will continue to play its watchdog role in the best interest of all.


Silence on sexual minority rights, a sad draw-back

What has riled CHRR and Cedep even more in the first 100 days of APM is his decision to sit on fence on sexual minority rights issues. It’s an indisputable fact that sexual minorities in the country keep suffering different forms of violations such as loss of lives, homes, property, jobs, business, excommunication from churches as well as being denied access to other social services.

This growing homophobia against the sexual minorities has made them go underground in silence, feeling unMalawian in their own country.

CHRR and Cedep, expected the President to be a father-figure enough and institute measures aimed at protecting the sexual minorities.

Unfortunately, our learned President has opted for silence when some Malawians suffer based on their sexual orientation. We at CHRR and Cedep would also like to caution the President against resorting to a strange way of subjecting sexual minority rights to a referendum as suggested by the DPP during the campaign period. We strongly believe such a move smacks of hypocrisy of the highest proportions as issues of human rights cannot be subjected popular vote. Democracy is about majority rule that protects and safeguards the interest of minorities.

Arthur Peter Mutharika (born 1940) is a Malawian politician, educator and lawyer who has been President of Malawi since 31 May 2014. Mutharika has worked in the area of international justice internationally. He is an expert on international economic law, international law and comparative constitutional law. He informally served as an adviser to his older brother, President Bingu wa Mutharika, on issues of foreign and domestic policy from the onset of his election campaign until the President’s death on 5 April 2012.  He has also held positions as Minister of Justice and later as Minister for Education, Science and Technology. Mutharika also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2012. He was charged to help bridge relations between Malawi and the United Kingdom due to the deterioration of public diplomacy between the two nations after the Chocrane-Dyet controversy.  Mutharika received his law degree from the University of London in 1965.   He is a member of the DPP party in Malawi. In May 2009, he was elected to the Malawian Parliament.

Some believed that Mutharika had assumed American citizenship while in the USA.  Malawi’s laws do not allow dual citizenship and it is widely speculated that he obtained US citizenship whilst living in the US and  that he had renounced his Malawian citizenship as is required by law. However, the US embassy in Lilongwe confirmed that he is not a citizen but a greencard holder.  The ruling DPP has stated that Mutharika is a Malawian citizen and would run for president as a Malawian citizen and not an American one. There was controversy that, as the holder of a US Greencard, he owes an allegiance to the United States. Therefore, people on the street are of the view that a nation cannot be run by someone who will be spending the minimum of three months in the US annually required to retain permanent resident status. In February 2014, he relinquished his green card and permanent resident status.

See Full Report:

Mutharika’s 100 Days in Office a Road of Hope _and_apprehension to the Future Copy


Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR)

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation contribute towards the protection, promotion and consolidation of good governance by empowering rural and urban communities in Malawi to be aware of and exercise their rights through research, advocacy and net-working in order to realize human development.


3 thoughts on “Malawi Human Rights Concern as Mutharika Silent on Sexual Minorities

  1. “It’s an indisputable fact that sexual minorities in the country keep suffering different forms of violations such as

    – Loss of lives,
    – Homes,
    – Property,
    – Jobs,
    – Business,
    – Excommunication from churches,
    – Being denied access to other social services.”

    I am posting this from Malawi. I am not aware of those alleged violations suffered by LGBTs here, and that “Homophobia and violence on rise” (sic). CEDEP and CHRR, especially the former organisation, keep trotting out these allegations, and our own stupid press publicise them without questioning them. These organisations should provide clear, CURRENT examples (with evidence) of what they are alleging, and First World blogs such as this one should not publicise their propaganda until they do so. If there is any truth in these allegations then it should be very easy for these foreign-funded organisations to produce evidence of them, particularly the claimed loss of lives. The allegation of being excommunicated from churches is not an example of discrimination unique to LGBTs. Heterosexual couples who attend church but have not been married there can one day find themselves shut out during a sudden purge of righteousness. (Yes, very stupid and unforgiving.)

    As I talk to my fellow villagers here in Northern Malawi, generally I find that they are willing to accept homosexuality, but stopping short at same-sex marriages. They do not like the idea of homosexuality, will say that it is wrong for religious reasons etc, but do finally agree that what LGBTs do is their own business, and that they can do as they please. We have one individual in Town who is making no secret of his homosexuality, and from what I can gather is not in any danger from anyone at all. He is mentioned on the internet, including FaceBook.

    Yes, there is the infamous case of Steve and Tiwonge, who were convicted of “sodomy” and indecent practices in 2010. There is no possible defence against that piece of stupidity, although it must be mentioned that they were pardoned, and that there is evidence that the whole affair was set up by activists (local and foreign) to see how the authorities would react. In addition, even the LGBT media recognises now that although the “sodomy” sections are still in the penal code, the authorities have no desire to enforce them.

    Back to CEDEP: I really have to wonder about this organisation. Why not have a look at its website, unchanged for several years now – The site is hosted on a freebie thingie, and is unimpressive for being headed by an individual who globe-trots frequently, and who has access to foreign funding. From the website you will not find out what CEDEP is currently doing for LGBTs, or a physical address or a phone number for it. However, You WILL find a PO Box number to which donation-checks (sic) can be sent, on the same page as a map showing where in the World Malawi is located. We here do not need this information on our location, so the site is clearly intended for foreigners. Incidentally, the US spelling for cheque implies that the tatty website has been set up by US well-wishers.

    1. “In addition, even the LGBT media recognises now that although the “sodomy” sections are still in the penal code, the authorities have no desire to enforce them.”

      Upon reflection, except for that period of stupidity in 2010, the authorities have never had a desire to enforce the “sodomy” sections. The only convictions which I am aware of were for homosexual rape, or where coercion was used in the act, ie only a single individual was prosecuted, rather than a consenting couple.

    2. Peter, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I too sometimes wonder about the funding and profit for individuals who become celebrity human rights defenders – they globe-trot as you say and even attain relative wealth purporting to do their human rights work. Often we see no realy results. Sometimes just a lot of per diems and rah rah and reports that satisfy funders! You could be right. I have seen this in other countries. I think CEDEP is worth investigating on this issue. As are many organizations – even those here in USA get away with this pretense.

      However with that said – one cannot forget that this arena is particular difficult when it comes to giving the type of evidence you seek and that is largely because peole remain closeted and are afriad to have their names used – often even afraid to report incidents.

      I have had some direct reports from grassroots to me directly of banishment and firings for being LGBTI. I was able to verify two such incidents.

      My hope is that the reporting done by these groups do not lead to back lash but rather a stronger awareness of how the penal codes and Anti-homsexuality laws can lead to persecution with a tacit license to those who believe in vigilante justice or to parents/bosses who banish and fire.

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