Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living or Personally Affected by HIV and Aids (Manerela+) says religious and opinion leaders have helped to reduce aggression and hatred against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual [LGBTI] community.
Speaking on Tuesday in Blantyre during orientation of religious and traditional leaders and law enforcers on Integrated Faith-based Response in Tackling Challenges Faced by LGBTI/Queer Project, Manerela+ programmes officer Harold Kachepatsonga said people now embrace the LGBTI unlike before when abuses against them were rampant.
He said: “Although challenges still exist, there is some progress in embracing the LGBTI. Previously, organisations had difficulties implementing sexuality projects, but now people appreciate what human sexuality is all about.
“Manerela+ is not advocating for legalisation of same-sex marriages, but rather inclusion of LGBTI community in the HIV and Aids fight to ensure complete eradication of stigma and discrimination, increase their safety, legal protection and social inclusion in places of worship and community.”
Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Alinani of Alumalick Masjid in Lunzu, Blantyre, said religious leaders’ judgement on sexual minorities is legalistic on an issue that is both sensitive and divisive in society.
“Neither the Bible nor the Quran endorses homosexuality. Like adultery, fornication or prostitution, it is denounced but people single out homosexuality as the biggest sin,” he said.
Group village head Malizani of Chileka said people used to frown upon intersex children born with male and female organs and kill them, but now the situation has improved with people embracing such minorities. The project is funded by Bread-for-the-World and is being piloted in Blantyre Rural and Urban.