/ 20 March 2010

Malawi churches says homosexuality is ‘sinful’

Malawi church leaders say that homosexuality is “sinful” and urged Western nations to withdraw threats to halt aid to the Southern Africa country over a court case that could send two gay men to jail for up to 14 years.

Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe, head of the Malawi Council of Churches, said a three day meeting of the main Protestant groups unanimously agreed on Friday to oppose any easing of laws criminalising same-sex partnerships.

A verdict will be delivered March 29 on Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, arrested and jailed since December 26 after holding a public engagement ceremony.

‘Buggery and indecent practices’
Their lawyer Mauya Msuku in January appealed to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the law used against them violated their constitutional rights to privacy, belief and self-expression.

Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo said the case was a simple criminal proceeding.

“There are no elements in the case that relate to the interpretation or application of the constitution,” Munlo said in his ruling.

He said the proceedings “deal with criminal offences under the penal code, namely the offence of buggery and indecent practices”.

The arrests have outraged human rights groups and Western donors in Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest nations. The churches say the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force
Malawi to accept homosexuality. – Sapa