Newly elected Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson Sophie Kalimba says the commission is still examining the homosexuality issue on which President Joyce Banda called for an open debate.
In an e-mail response on Monday, Kalimba, who has replaced outspoken Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito, did not commit herself on whether the commission recognises sexual minority rights as part of fundamental human rights.
Kalimbaâ€™s remarks follow Human Rights Consultative Committee chairperson Undule Mwakasungulaâ€™s question to the commission at a meeting in Lilongwe, asking MHRC to state its position on homosexuality rights.
â€œIn answering this question on homosexuality, I pointed out that MHRC is still studying the issue given its ramifications and that up to now the commission has not taken a position,â€ said Kalimba.
Chancellor College law lecturer Dr Mwiza Nkhata in an interview said the recognition, respect and promotion of minority rights is a fair acknowledgment of the diversity that characterises most societies.
â€œIt is in defining minorities that we ought to be comprehensive and broad. For example, the current debate on homosexuality in this country may erroneously lead others to the conclusion that homosexuals are the only minorities deserving of protection in this country,â€ said Nkhata.
He said there are equally important minorities that require attention such as religious, linguistic and other socially stigmatised groups in society and that the key factor to minorities was nondiscrimination.
â€œThe vulnerability and powerlessness of minorities entails that society must craft rules that adequately cover for their predicament, especially conceding that the majoritarian nature of most systems of governance may unduly ignore the plight of those who are not immediately prominent,â€ he said.