Malison Ndau, Malawi’s government spokesperson, has said that ‘pastor of hate’, Steven Anderson setting up a church in the country “would not augur well for the people of Malawi” and that the country’s people “would not accept it”.
“He would would not be received well here,” Ndau said.
Humans rights activists have raised concerns around “kill the gays” pastor, Steven Anderson’s recent announcement that he planned to set up a division of his church in Malawi.
Anderson is the head of the Faithful Word Baptist Church and has on numerous occasions called for the killing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Andrew Mayinga, who works within the LGBT division of the Malawian organisation Tough and Free Africa said that LGBTI people would be at greater risk of discrimination and persecution should Anderson set up his church within the country.
“Anderson being allowed to set up his church here, and spreading hatred, would bring great tension and confusion in Malawian society as the enjoyment of human rights would be interfered with through his negative and violent preaching.”
The controversial pastor has made headlines on several occasions. On September 13, South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that Anderson and his followers would not be allowed entry into the country. A week later, Anderson was deported from Botswana after he had made inflammatory comments during a radio debate in that country, referring to an LGBTI activist as “a paedophile and a liar”. The pastor was in Botswana to establish a branch of his church.
Hendrik Baird, who spearheaded the campaign to have Anderson and his followers barred from South Africa, is not surprised at the pastor’s latest move to set up his church on the African continent, after having “burnt his fingers in South Africa and Botswana”.
“There are many other African countries that are not as tolerant of homosexuality, where he feels he would be welcomed,” he says.
In May 2012, then-president Joyce Banda pledged to repeal Malawi’s anti-gay laws, which carry a 14-year imprisonment sentence for same-sex relations.
In November of that year Malawi’s then-justice minister Ralph Kasambara ordered such arrests to be halted, pending the outcome of a parliamentary debate around the issue. But pressure from religious groups saw the laws being reinstated just a few days later.
Mayinga is, however, determined to engage with religious bodies and the country’s government in the hopes of foiling Anderson and his followers. “We will work with whoever in whatever way necessary to get them to stop him from entering the country – and stop him from having his church here.”
Coenraad Kukkuk, the lawyer who assisted in the campaign to deny Anderson entry into South Africa, said: “We should not forget that one of their aims is purely money – income for themselves and of course to fund the conveyance of their fundamentalist and hateful beliefs.
“This expansion into Africa should be stopped at all costs – like we did in South Africa and Botswana – as there is enough conflict on the continent.”
Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow fellow at the Mail & Guardian