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Homosexual survey rolls out in July, says MHRC

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THE Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has said it expects to roll out the survey that aims at getting the views of Malawians for the country’s firm position on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT) in the first week of July.

Malawi suspended its laws against any same-sex relationships and marriages in November 2012 and re-affirmed that position in 2015.

In 2016, the government advised MHRC to conduct a survey and produce a report on what the country can do to move out of the dilemma.

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The suspended laws have the punishing powers of up to 14 years imprisonment if one is found guilty of engaging in same sex relationships or marriages.

MHRC Chairperson, Justin Dzonzi, said the commission has concluded the designing of the data collection methodology and will be calling for a meeting with stakeholders in the week beginning June 19 for validation.

“This is an issue that needs to meet international standards and all social research qualities,” Dzonzi said.

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He said the commission expects both data collection and analysis to be done from July up to the end of September.

“We should be able to submit the report to the Ministry of Justice for consideration by the end of October, the latest,” he said.

Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) Executive Director, Gift Trapence, said Cedep will only support the process that will meet the international human rights standards.

“Cedep will not support a process that will subject LGBT issues to a referendum. Cedep will not support a process that can reinforce discrimination,” Trapence said.

A 2016 Afrobarometer survey indicated that only six out of 100 Malawians would tolerate having a person with homosexual traits as a neighbour despite the country ranking number two out of 33 countries in terms of tolerance levels.

In December last year, some religious organisations including Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) marched against the decision to suspend the anti-homosexual laws and any decision to repeal such laws.

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