Two gay men on Friday explained to lawyers about the ill-treatment they get from police and the public because of their sexual orientation.
The duo expressed their sentiments when Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) organised a two-day sensitisation and capacity building workshop on lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI), HIV and Aids and human rights for lawyers.
One of them said he was invited by a friend to spend a night in Naperi, Blantyre where he was assaulted by some people after learning about his presence.
“The police were not helpful and many lawyers refused to represent me. The one who accepted told me to give him $20 000 [about K12 million]. This is because there is a perception that we [gays] have a lot of money,” he said, adding that he never regrets his status sexual orientation.
His colleague said he was drinking at Kamba, Blantyre when a man told the bartender not to give him beer because he was gay. He claimed he was assaulted and spent two days in custody at Blantyre Police Station after he was reported.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) vice- president Powell Nkhutabasa, who was at the workshop, expressed disappointment that some lawyers refused to represent gays.
“It is unfortunate that some lawyers behaved that way because, regardless of the status, he had every right to be represented and that is our duty,” he said.
CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo said they engaged lawyers because they are an important stakeholder in matters of accessing justice.
Associate professor Chiwoza Bandawe at College of Medicine (CoM), a constituent college of the University of Malawi, MLS executive secretary Godfrey Kangaude and Chrispine Sibande, a human rights lawyer, made presentations at the workshop. n