A New York Times account of the efforts of Malawi President Joyce Banda to repeal her country’s anti-homosexuality laws includes this account of two African elder statesmen who have taken the same position.
The piece recounted last year’s appeals from former presidents of Botswana and Zambia:
Mrs. Banda’s is not an isolated voice, however. Last year, Botswana’s former president Festus Mogae, who championed providing H.I.V. medication to all who needed it, joined an African elder statesman, Kenneth Kaunda, a former Zambian president, to urge decriminalization of homosexuality.
They went to Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, in June 2011 as part of their campaign to reduce H.I.V. transmission. “We can preach about behavioral change, but as long as we confine gays and lesbians into dark corners because of our inflexibility to accommodate them, the battle on H.I.V. and AIDS can never be won,” Mr. Mogae said.
He admitted to the BBC that he hadn’t risked losing an election by trumpeting gay rights during his years in office, from 1998 to 2008, but he said he had never sought to arrest gays either.
Mr. Kaunda, who was in office from 1964 to 1991, said, “We are not only condemning African leaders who are criminalizing same-sex marriage, but we are urging them to start recognizing these people, for the sake of H.I.V. and AIDS.”