Scores of religious groups and churches took to the streets of several cities in Malawi last week Thursday to denounce same-sex marriage before a constitutional court hearing next week.
Hundreds of people in Blantyre gathered to protest what they call the potential legalization of same-sex marriage in the country. The protesters came from both of the country’s major religions — Christianity and Islam.
Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa led the protests in Blantyre. He said same-sex marriages are a sin, and allowing such unions would lead to the extinction of the human race.
“If we change the way we live as a family, it means we will cease to exist. If we continue to marry a man with a man, surely the offspring, no children will come, then no life in the world, no life in Malawi,” he said.
The nationwide protests come as the Constitutional Court in Malawi continues to hear a case in which Dutch national Jan Willem Akstar and transgender Malawian woman Jana Gonani argue that Malawi’s anti-homosexuality laws violate their fundamental rights, including privacy and dignity.
Homosexuality is an offense in Malawi and is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
However, civil society organizations have voiced concerns about discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in the country.
Eric Sambisa, executive director for Nyasa Rainbow Coalition, which fights for the rights of LGBTQ people in Malawi, said it is sad that religious leaders are fostering discrimination.
“The church is a powerful organization in society,” he said. “And seeing the church being in the forefront to demonstrate can actually fuel violence against an already disadvantaged community. So, it’s sad that this is happening like this.”
Khumbo Soko, a Lilongwe lawyer representing the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, and Manerela+, said the case is about consenting adults and is optimistic it will be decided on the basis of facts and law.