As the question on whether Malawi should decriminalise same-sex marriages continues to split minds in Malawi, Paida Mpaso speaks with Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) chairperson, the Reverend Alex Maulana, on the best approach in dealing with the issue.
Are you happy with government’s approach so far on homosexuality?
Well, I think as the Church representing the people of Malawi, we feel government is dilly dallying on the issue for reasons best known to it. We feel this issue needs to be considered as serious and should be tackled with seriousness so that the people of Malawi and the rest of us can move on. As the Church, we feel government needs to come out in the open and say the truth so that the issue must be closed, once and for all.
Government has included homosexuals in its strategy to fight HIV and Aids. What is your take on this?
I think this government is trying to balance issues and since these are people of Malawi, they too need to be protected. At the same time, this may mean that government is accepting homosexuality, in brackets that is, that is why it is not coming out straight. People need to realise that we are dealing with a problem and not the people as such.
As the Church, what is your position on homosexuality?
Our stand is clear. We can never allow homosexuality. Mind you we are treating this like any other sin and we would not be happy if government accepted this. We feel homosexuality should never be legalised.
Why are you involving yourselves in legal issues?
Government takes care of people, including the Church and the Church is made up of people who worship God and some of its members are in Parliament. I really don’t understand when people are saying this is not within our jurisdiction. But I can say that this is not in our culture and I don’t think people want this.
But things are changing in Malawi, does the Church not see this as part of life?
Yes, but as the Church, we will continue to speak against this and any other sin. We cannot enforce laws because we are not in Parliament, but if we were, we would do that. Culture does evolve, but it can never be depleted and that is why we will continue to talk because we base our teaching on the Bible. As a religious country, we have to take our position in a lot of issues, including homosexuality.
How does the Church look at suggestions that issues of homosexuality might be tied to donor aid? In case this happens, should Malawians suffer just for this?
That is the problem with many rich countries. They like to push their ideologies on other sovereign countries. They want to attach conditions to their aid, something which is unfair even to God. Malawi has its own values and beliefs. We still need to respect each other. Just because we are poor, we are being forced to change certain things, something which is bad.
However, I wish Malawians were hard working. In that way, we could liberate ourselves from this. As it stands now, it might be difficult and we know that leaders are pressed.
What is the Church going to do should Malawi legalise homosexuality?
We choose leaders [to be our] think tanks. These people in power need to think how they can liberate their people. They need to liberate and think for us. If [government legalises homosexuality], as the Church, we will continue to preach against it. When some laws are made in Parliament, we preach against them and we will not stop now.
Let me be clear here. We do not hate the people, we hate the act itself. As the Church, we cannot backtrack. We will maintain our position, regardless. We are part of Malawi, we will go along with the people, not that we will be happy, but we will continue.
These are people and Malawians for that matter. If we chase them, where will they go? Preaching helps in clearing mindsets. Some have been forced into this because they want money, and no one can tell me that they were born like this. People just entertain these things. As the Church, we can only preach the Word of God and the decision is theirs.