Thousands of believers marched yesterday in Malawi to protest strongly against abortion and, at the same time, to express opposition to same-sex marriage.
Rumors of possible legislation to legalize abortion triggered the protests. The marchers’ hostility to LGBTI people brought a promise of support from Anglo-Nigerian activist the Rev. Jide Macauley.
He wrote on Facebook:
“All the churches in Malawi were marching against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, abortion bill rights, women and girls rights, anti-protection for PLWHIV [people living with HIV], anything they don’t like. They are inciting hatred against liberal and progressive faith leaders, they are calling out any known LGBTIQ persons for direct attacks and they took their protest and petitions to the Malawi parliament.
“This is very disturbing. … the conservatives, fundamental and extreme religious right wings are building fear in the society.
“Something must be done and we will stand in solidarity with our friends in Malawi.”
The marches were interfaith events. Protesters included Muslims, Rastas, Catholics, Anglicans and evangelical Protestants.
The marches were organized jointly by a Catholic organization (the Episcopal Conference of Malawi) and a Protestant one (the Evangelical Association of Malawi).
A Malawian law on same-sex intimacy, currently unenforced, provides for prison sentences of up to 14 years for men and up to five years for women. The country does not recognize same-sex marriages and is not considering any change in that position.
The following excerpts from Malawian media describe the Dec. 6 marches:
Believers protest abortion, same-sex relations (The Nation)
The clergy yesterday led their faithful in nationwide peaceful demonstrations to protest against the proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill and same-sex marriages in the country.
The marches took place concurrently in Blantyre, Zomba, Mangochi, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
During the marches, the demonstrators presented petitions to government through city and town councils as well as Parliament in the case of Lilongwe.
… [Mzuzu Catholic Diocese vicar general Andrew] Chunda said abortion and same-sex marriages are ungodly acts that should not be condoned. …
Many of the marchers donned branded T-shirts and carried placards denouncing abortion and same-sex marriages. …
The demonstrations come against a background of some civil society organisations lobbying for the enactment or passing of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill among religious leaders, chiefs and politicians.
Malawi march for life ‘just a taste of things to come’ (Nyasa Times)
… Many people who spoke to Nyasa Times in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu said rather than protesting against an impending Termination of Pregnancy Bill, they cited more varied reasons for joining the protests.
In addition to voicing opposition to legalising abortion and same-sex liaisons, they say they are expressing anger with blackouts, water shortages, ailing economy and worsening corruption in government. …
Malawians march against abortion, homosexuality (Maravi Post)
… The pro-life marches, held under the theme, ‘Lighting the Candle’, attracted people from different denominations who are united in their stand against abortion and homosexuality.
“We cannot install a culture of death in our country,” said one of a Catholic Christian who joined people donning all white t-shirts in the ‘march for life’.
… Women’s rights activists and champions of safe motherhood, argue that giving women more reasons to safely terminate pregnancies in health facilities will reduce maternal deaths and costs of treating complications of unsafe abortions.
However, pro-life agents, especially religious leaders, say this will promote killing. They preach that life begins at conception,
Ministry of Health estimates that government spends up to K300 million annually [about US $415,000] treating almost 70 000 who seek post-abortal care every year.
However, the government has indirectly accused the churches of jumping the gun … it denied it has drafted a bill for termination of pregnancies which is ready for presentation in Parliament.
In a statement issued on the eve of the march, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Malisen Ndau clarified that what is in place is a report that was prepared by the Malawi Law Commission, which recommended the government to develop a new law on abortion.
- Malawi debates its anti-LGBTI law, still on hold (Dec. 1, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Malawi: Judge seeks renewed gay arrests; gay man attacked (February 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Call for police probe of anti-gay hate speech in Malawi (Jan. 6, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Pastor coalition wants homosexuals re-arrested (Jan. 4, 2015, The Nation)
- Gay Malawian appeals for justice; now he’s in hiding (Jan. 2, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- It’s official: No more Malawi arrests under anti-gay laws (July 2014, 76crimes.com)
- 3 in Malawi prisons await ruling on sodomy law