United States of America (USA) has dismissed assertions that it demands a conditionality for aid to African countries, including Malawi, legalising same-sex relationships.
While accepting that he is aware of the perceptions that people have in many countries, USA special envoy on issues of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI), Randy Berry, in an interview on Tuesday, said his government does not attach the string of LGBTI to its aid to developing countries.
He said: “There is no conditionality based on this issue. However, you can’t really separate the issues of rights of LGBTI with much broader issues of good governance, the rule of law, independence of the Judiciary and you know the rights of civil society and individuals within society.
“I mean those are fundamental building blocks of the state and don’t they affect members of the community? Surely they do, and they affect several other things too. Our assistance programmes and those of other countries are focused on improving governance, but there is no conditionality based on this issue of LGBTI.”
The donors argue, as emphasised by Berry, that rights of LGBTI are equal to rights of all individuals and there is no way one can talk of equal rights when the rights of a minority group of society are being trampled over.
In December 2015, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu issued a statement emphasising that the moratorium issued in 2012 against the arrest of LGBTI individuals was still in place. The statement was issued after the arrest of two men in Area 25, Lilongwe after they allegedly were found engaging in sexual activities.
Although USA has taken 50 years of debating the issue of homosexuality before making considerable strides in many states, Berry said this is the right time for such debate in Malawi in spite of Malawi’s democracy being young as compared to that of US and that there is no good reason to delay the starting of a fundamental conversation in a country.