Malawi’s LGBTI Community Marches, Petitions Government for Change

BLANTYRE, MALAWI – In Malawi, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex (LGBTI) community Saturday held their first ever pride parade in the capital, Lilongwe, pushing for recognition by the government, legalization of same-sex marriage and equal access to health care. During the parade, marchers carried placards with messages like; “We Are Also Human Beings,” “Diversity Creates Community” and, “We Are Also an Image of God.” Many of them covered their faces not only with coronavirus protective masks to hide their identity. Eric Sambisa, director of Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, which organized the parade, told reporters that sexual minorities are in danger in Malawi. “People are not safe here because they are targeted for violence all the time. There are so many forms of violence targeted to LGBTI people, so I don’t blame them if they cover their [faces]. It’s for their own safety,” Sambisa said. The marchers petitioned Malawi’s government to cancel an online survey on citizens’ views on homosexuality announced last November during a United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the country’s human rights record. A U.N. report stemming from the review noted that “Malawi had refused to accept the recommendations” related to the LGBTI community “and the hate crimes, physical violence, and mental health issues that its members faced.”