Imagine the year is 1851 and Abraham Lincoln is calling for a referendum on slavery. Or it is 1940 and Adolf Hitler is calling for one on the Jews in Nazi Germany. What do you think the outcome would be? Your guess is as good as mine. Using the foregoing as the principle for working, the election on November 4th in 2008 of the first African-America, Barack Obama, as President of the United States of America would be an illusory.
That, my friends, is how some human rights activists want us to operate. At a time when we are supposed to be progressive and generous in application of thought, they want us to remain loyal and faithful to our age-old prejudices. We have mastered the art of pretending so much that, combined with our prejudices, we apply the precepts of the Holy Scriptures selectively to suit our own preconceived purposes.
The discussion of gay rights/human rights is something that needs to take place now. No one is asking people to change the sexual orientation. It is all a matter of respecting each other’s sexual persuasion so we can all co-exist in harmony. Which is the reason debate, facilitated by the suspension of the law by the attorney general, should be embraced as a catalyst for achieving that coexistence that we badly need.
If we let civil society representatives coming up with petitions to preclude this debate where is democracy? Why are the liberties of others to be heard being stifled? Does the gay community not have a right of rebuttal? I thought democracy is about defending the right of those we don’t share a view to express themselves?
The story as it has always been heard is only from one side. Is it not fair that the other side too should be heard? My submission is that this is an opportunity for those that have not spoken out because of the stigma that comes with being gay in Malawi to make their representations.
There have been some articles which show that being a homosexual is a natural occurrence and not by choice. I’m not a scientist/biologist so really even though I may use that for arguments sake, it’s not for me to decide for people what they can or cannot believe. My only concern is that the same people who are supposed to defend human rights are fidgeting where it comes to gay rights.
What is the need for a referendum? What is it supposed to achieve? Are we not the same people that condemn the government for misusing money, and do we have to do it on something whose outcome is a foregone?
The argument that homosexuality is a western concept is another ridiculous one. Yes it is true that acceptance of gay rights is now a condition for donor funding but come on people. The fact that we actually have a name for this act [mathanyula] is an indication that they [gay people] exist in our communities.
In a recent debate which was aired on radio zodiak, a chief came on and explained that they have caught men having sex with men. This was not in town but in the villages. Such men have their wives despite having hots for fellow men. The chief was trying to appeal to the country the need to change the law of the land so that the gay people should be able to exercise their right. By this he meant not just who they want to sleep with, but also the right to healthcare access which would then better school them on the dos and don’ts of safe sex just like is the case with heterosexuals. At present, we have the case where these men who are married are infecting their spouses and the end result is that whole communities are being wiped out.
Now truth be told, it is not only these bisexual encounters that are wiping out our people. As a country we like to take pride in that we are all holier than thou when that is not so. A few days ago there was a national alliance for the prostitutes where they chose their country representatives. While there is a need for such a committee, the question that comes to mind is who are they servicing? For them to come up with such an initiative means it’s a booming market. One survey also said that most of the men who frequent such places where they find these prostitutes will pay more for anal sex. What does that tell us? I’ll leave that to your imagination.
The other argument which the government has failed to execute properly is the debate. What would have been so hard for the government to say that there was a need to suspend the law? It is no secret that as a country dependant on foreign aid our hands are tied as we need the aid more so now than before but surely they could have come up with a better way of telling the people than just dropping it on them like they did. Malawians are very sensitive about the issue and so should be handled with care. What we should not do is take it for granted that whatever the government decides people will go along with it.
Long gone are the days when people could just sit idle waiting on their government. Slowly but surely we are doing away with passive citizenry and as such those who are representatives of the people need to be careful enough to know that they not only represent the majority but the minorities as well. You can’t be a human rights defender and yet pick and chose who you want to defend. Either you are or you are not.
No one needs a fancy education to understand that a referendum in which the oppressor should decide on whether or not they want to continue their oppression is redundant.