Skip to comments.Malawi Officials to Challenge Appointment of Pro-Gay British High Commissioner
Posted on 08/28/2007 7:02:11 PM PDT by monomaniac
By Meg Jalsevac
Malawi, August 28, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The appointment of the next British High Commissioner to Malawi has provoked government officials of the African nation to speak out against his suitability for the job in the conservative nation considering his record as a proponent of gay rights in his previous position in the Scottish Government. Former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell was tapped to assume the position beginning in 2011 but opposition to his appointment is already being strongly voiced by several Malawi government officials.
While serving in the Scottish government, McConnell successfully worked to repeal Section 28 - the section of Scottish law that forbad the teaching of homosexuality to children in school. Throughout McConnell's tenure, he was also in favor of establishing legally recognized same-sex civil unions or homosexual "marriage."
Homosexuality is considered strictly illegal in Malawi as an "unnatural offence". Homosexual acts are recognized as equally serious as bestiality and rape and can warrant a prison sentence of up to 14 years in jail.
Presidential candidate, Friday Jumbe, said: "To have a man of such character who supports gay rights to come to Malawi is dangerous to us. He can easily use his influence as High Commissioner to force through legislation and that's my biggest fear."
"I don't want him and I know I am speaking for my party and many legislators that we cannot allow such a person into Malawi."
Jumbe is a representative for the United Democratic Front which is the opposition party to the current ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party of President Bingu wa Mutharika.
A spokesman for McConnell has attempted to alleviate concerns surrounding his appointment saying, "Jack McConnell is not going there to tell the people or their politicians what to do. He is going with the aim of helping to improve the education that young people receive."
However, politicians in Malawi are skeptical. According to the Daily Express Newspaper, another opposition UDF politician said, "In Scotland, McConnell used his position to promote homosexuality and if he did that using his position what would stop him from doing that in Malawi?
Activists from several prominent international gay rights groups have already begun lobbying McConnell to change the laws in the conservative nation. Calum Irving of the gay rights group Stonewall said, "Mr. McConnell should say to [the Malawi officials] that this is a real barrier to progress and development."
John Watson of Amnesty International more discreetly encouraged McConnell to "tackle human rights concerns when he meets his overseas counterparts."
Malawi's Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) submitted a proposal earlier this year in an attempt to gauge public opinion of the constitution on the issue. The proposal stated that homosexuality is a "recognized international human rights standard." It was rejected by the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee.
Lawmaker Adden Mbowani Nkhotakota said that homosexuality could not be legalized in Malawi because it is evil, and stands for everything that is immoral in the country.
"We have Muslims and Christians in Malawi, and in both religions it is sinful. We are not going to let this into our laws."
This is not the first time that the small nation has come under international pressure to cave and abandon its conservative standards. As previously reported in LifeSiteNews, UNFPA targeted Malawi in 2002, while the country was undergoing the trials of a famine, with a "reproductive health" initiative that included "providing and distributing abortifacient contraceptives and training "family planning" counselors."
A similar initiative in 2002 to promote condom use saw billboards of nearly naked women portrayed across the nation. The condom campaign was launched by the NGO, Population Services International. The campaign caused outrage among many religious leaders in the country.
Read Previous LifeSiteNews.com Coverage:
USAID Sponsored Sexual Ads Greatly Offend Malawi Religious Leaders
Canada Collaborates with UNFPA to Scare Malawi into Population Control
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