Monday, March 22, 2010

Clergy meet boots out gays

Three visiting Christian gays chased out of a Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) homosexuality consultation workshop in Mangochi are annoyed with “insults” showered on them by angry pastors.

“I am personally saddened that those that I look up to for protection and compassion, the Church leaders, are the ones who stated, at the beginning of this conference, that they regard me as their enemy, “ Victor Mukasa, a Ugandan gay activist, said.

Mukasa, also known as Juliet, attended the workshop along with Chivuli Ukwimi, a Zambian gay , and Rev. Pieter Oberholzer from South Africa. They described their treatment by the pastors as “homophobia”, saying it was worse than in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.

Divided religious figures during the MCC meeting in the presence of the three labelled them “sinners, unwanted visitors and demonic.“ Other pastors pleaded they be given a chance to talk so that they know more about the sensitive issue of homosexuals, lesbians, trans-gender and intersex people.

Ukwimi, who was subjected to a police search on his way to Blantyre, described the angry pastors as “modern day Pharisees and Sadducees who would have stoned Jesus Christ during his time for associating with outcasts.”

Oberholzer, with a Masters degree in theology, who had shock therapy treatments to stop being gay also felt saddened, insulted and alarmed that “fellow brothers and sisters in Christ compared his life to that of adulterers, prostitutes and promiscuity.”

Other pastors described homosexuality as a bigger and worse sin than adultery, defilement, rape, theft and murder and attacked guest speaker on homosexuality causes, Charles Chilimapunga for lecturing sociology without referring to the Bible.

A statement dated March 17 and signed by Mukasa and Rev. Oberholzer also shows their subjection to “severe Bible bashing, stereotyping and caricaturing”. The three were however full of praise for Reverend Canaan Phiri, MCC general secretary describing him as a kind father figure with Mukasa referring to him as “papa”.

Some pastors fearing a gay presentation could convert them attacked Rev. Phiri for allowing the three to attend. They also attacked journalists for showing up at the opening meeting.

However, Phiri in an interview and almost in tears said MCC invited the three to explain the difference between intersex and sexual orientation among other things.
He wanted the meeting to decide how best to treat inter-sex Christians born with both genitals and previously known as hermaphrodites.

A speaker was however briefly able to explain how his late cousin and an aunt born with male and female sex organs struggled to behave “normally” while living in a Malawian village.

“Born as a woman…I would have told you that the T in LGBTI stands for Transgender. I would have also told you, in case you doubt that we use the word ”mistake of nature”, that intersex people are living proof that such mistakes do happen. Thousands of babies worldwide are born with ambiguous genitals. This means that they have both, almost unidentifiable, male and female organs,“ wrote Mukasa.

Mukasa who works as a programme associate for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission also accused some members of the Malawi clergy of treating them like lepers and the hurt, pain and rejection suffered at the hands of the Church when trying to find a gender identity.

“I had no choice in this matter. I nearly lost my faith in a loving God due to this rejection, but I am grateful that I discovered that it is God who made me the way I am and that His grace is sufficient for me,” he wrote.

According to Rev. Phiri, being inter-sex is biological and not sinful like homosexuality citing an example of South African athlete Semenya who was condemned for allegedly having both genitals.

“We don’t understand intersex people’s behaviour because we stereotype them as homosexual which we condemn but we should differentiate between those who choose to have same sex intimate relationships and those born that way,” he explained.

The meeting finally resolved that homosexual acts and practices are un-Christian and gays were sinners who need love and prayers. The MCC also urged the government not to bow down to donor pressure to accept gay rights in exchange for financial aid.

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of the Sirius star. this space.