Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living or Personally Affected by HIV and Aids (Manerela+) says equipping religious leaders with knowledge on sexuality can help fast-track the fight against the pandemic.
Speaking on Tuesday in Balaka when the organisation briefed religious and civil society organisations (CSOs) leaders on issues related to sexuality, Manerela+ manager Harold Kachepatsonga said no sector of society should be left out in the fight against the disease.
“Sexuality is one of the major issues dominating conversation in society and the church today and Manerela+, through the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa [Osisa] funded Creating an Enabling Environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexual [LGBTI] Community in Malawi project, is advocating that everybody should be reached with HIV and Aids messages and health services,” he said.
Kachepatsonga said Manerela+ is not promoting legalisation of same-sex marriages, but rather inclusion of LGBTI community in the HIV and Aids fight because that will ensure complete eradication of stigma and discrimination in society.
Sheikh Ahmed Mwanyali of Chomba Masjid in Mangochi said religious leaders’ judgement tend to be too legalistic when dealing with sexual minorities, an issue which is both sensitive and divisive in society and church.
“Indeed neither the Bible nor the Quran endorses homosexuality, but only denounces it just like any other sin such as adultery, fornication, prostitution but why we single out homosexuality as the biggest sin remains a surprise,” he said.
Bishop Baxter Natulu of the Pentecostal Seventh Day Church of God said the Bible clearly does not condone homosexuality and there is no compromise on that.
He also said welcoming homosexuals in the church and showing them the love of God will help avoid phobia.
After the meeting, most of the sheikhs and pastors agreed that they should embrace the LGBTI community which is not the same thing as promoting homosexuality.