Thursday September 21, 2023

Fear and stigma mark life for gays in Malawi

June 16, 2019

LILONGWE: Fearing persecution after being outed as gay, Adil fled Malawi. Leaving behind his well-off Muslim family and four-year-old son, he headed for South Africa, where he became a sex worker to survive. “The laws that we have in Malawi are incriminating. I wanted to get away from here. I had to take my chances,” the 29-year-old told AFP. His full name is withheld for fear of homophobic retribution. For two years Adil laboured as a male sex worker in the tough streets of downtown Johannesburg, eventually returning home. His case highlights the problems in Malawi, a holdout in southern Africa where legal liberalisation for gays is otherwise gaining speed. Botswana this week joined Angola, Mozambique, Seychelles and South Africa on the path towards decriminalising homosexuality, with a verdict by its High Court to scrap decades-old anti-gay laws. These landmark cases “set an important framework... which will hopefully be emulated elsewhere in Africa,” Anneke Meerkotter of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) told AFP. But “hopefully” is the key word. Elsewhere on the continent, the picture is quite different. Last month, Kenya´s High Court upheld laws punishing “carnal knowledge... against the order of nature” by up to 14 years in jail. Chad and Uganda have also introduced or toughened legislation.—AFP