Ban Ki-moon, Homosexuality and the price of Africa's poverty

The excitement of many Malawians at the prospect of seeing the United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon died istantly when everyone realised that he had travelled from New York only to add pressure to Malawi to release the gay couple that had been jailed for 14 years on charges of buggery and gross indecencency.
I had the privilage of sitting close to Ki-moon when he assumed the post of spokesperson to the President to tell our Parliamentarians that the President had pardoned the two men and asked parliament to appeal "outdated laws."
There are reactions but many are not captured, What do ordinary Malawians think that has been the question. Malawians are angry and horrified.
Nobody really expected the two men to stay in prison for 14 years, an appeal process at the Higher Court would have seen the two get a lesser or even suspended sentence.
Today from facebook to twitter, one can sense the feeling that everybody is sympathetic to our President, he was held by the Foreign countries and cemented by an angry Ban Ki-Moon who told our MP's to change their outdated laws.
Now, the pardon has come abit with a price, it will just increase homophobia as an alien culture and those that were hoping to change the stage should completely forget it.
I asked Ban Ki-moon how did he expect the two men to live in society which will be hostile to them, he said it was the leaders reponsibility to change society.
Now the arguments Mr. Ki-moon presented to our parliament do not reflect of anybody in the Western World taking into account what our culture, beliefs and opinion say about the matter.
To the UN and the whole Western world, if it is African-it is outdated and uncivilised, if it is the WESTERN thought it matters and its should be followed.
I have been told many have reminded Malawians that they pay for medicine and food and therefore we are oblidged to do as they wish and not think for ourselves. Any wonder why CHINA looks like a true partner other than a boss freind.
What got me and many Malawians angry is the fact that Ban Ki-moon could not even allow my President just to release the statement, but against his conscience, belief and religion ask him to make a pronouncement of the pardon himself.
To me that was humiliation of my President, My country and our beliefs.
Human rights includes allowing Malawians to protect and maintain their identity, it is strange that rights that matter to the United States and to UK are the one we should all be cajouled to follow and leave out whether our conscience and opinion.
In short we dont have a freedom to choose our culture, our beliefs and protect and defend them.
A diplomat from the United Nations in New York told me that the King of Saudi Arabia want to introduce a resolution, that the world body and everybody should recognise and respect each people's culture.
Today Israel is busy killing innocent people on the Gaza strip who wanted to deliver aid and the world is watching hopelessly. Iran looks like a pariah because it does not want to kneel under the shackles of people who have imposed themselves as moral and cultural custodians of the globe.
Ban Ki-moon should have gone to Sudan where people are killed everyday, should have gone to Congo where people are raped each minute and should have solved Iraq and Afghanistan wars but loo he chooses Malawi to be his centre of work- to campaign for gay rights.
The pardon has lost all the sympathy that Malawians had over the two people and many of similar. It will take another 50 years for the debate to return and have active supporters.
Of course everybody in Malawi says when you are in state of poverty, your voice does not matter, Ban Ki-moon and the West has just made many locals to stop having faith in them.
Some reactions really can be destructive, forcing a pardon might have been seen as successful in the West, but locally it is the worst decision the West could have made over the years.

Comments

Pablo (yo) said…
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Thanks,
Pablo from Argentina
Sinthalunda said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sinthalunda said…
"The pardon has lost all the sympathy that Malawians had over the two people and many of similar."

There was no "sympathy", no attempt to understand and feel, so little has been lost. Why was the pardon given? Perhaps, you should ask that question?
Acacia said…
i thought ki-moon's trip was planned a long time in advance, did it really have this sole agenda?
MrK said…
Excellent blog. I will add it to the links on my own. :) By the way, I am not gay, but I believe that the state has no right to interfere in the private lives of citizens.

Sinthalunda,

There was no "sympathy", no attempt to understand and feel, so little has been lost. Why was the pardon given? Perhaps, you should ask that question?

The pardon was given because of pressure put on President Mutharika, and for no other reason.

The real question should have been - why wasn't Malawi's legal system allowed to follow it's own course? This pardon keeps everying the same. Homosexuality is still illegal in Malawi. The Penal Code has not been challenged or changed.

The truth is that Malawi's Constitution, through Article 20 provides ample protection against discrimination.

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

Chapter 4

Equality 20. -

1. Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, *sex*, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.

2. Legislation may be passed addressing inequalities in society and prohibiting discriminatory practices and the propagation of such practices and may render such practices criminally punishable by the courts.


(From the NyasaTimes: Malawi law which criminalizes homosexuality is invalid –rights lawyer.)

If the law had taken it's course, it is likely that the verdict would have been overturned on appeal to the High Court, the penal code provisions banning homosexuality would have automatically become unconstitutional, and they would have been scrapped. In effect, homosexuality would have become legal in Malawi. Or there would not have been specific laws against it, as is in all non-British former colonies (like the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, etc.).

The truth is that this case should have been preceded by a general public discussion - what does it mean to be gay, does it affect the lifestyle of anyone who isn't gay, etc.

This does however go to measures of sovereignty. In this case, like many others, donor aid is used to coerce the government on the issue of domestic and foreign policy. Some months ago, certain members of the British intelligence establishment (Brig. Geoffrey van Orden, MEP) tried to use the suspension of aid to force the government of Malawi not to extend a loan to the government of Zimbabwe.

Malawi is a rich land, it should not depend on donor aid at all. It has place for tea and coffee plantations, it has lots of fresh water, it should produce everything it needs and trade the rest. It should tax to the hilt all the foreign corporations doing business in Malawi, and use the money to support Malawian farmers and manufacturers to set up their own wealth generating businesses.

I have to admit that I am not as familiar with the economy of Malawi as I am with that of Zambia, but in Zambia there is a lot of money left on the table by not taxing the mines.

Anyway, my own blog is here.

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