Thursday, 10 July 2014

UN Demands Malawi Position on Gays Rights

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has demanded Malawi government to come out and announce its stand on calls to decriminalize same sex marriage in the country. 

" Please provide information on the findings of the Law Commission with regards to its review of the penal Code, in particular Section 137 (A) 157 and 156 in the context of the Human Rights Committee's previous recommendation to decriminalize consensual same- sexual activity," reads the UN Commiittee issue's paper.

The call follows a meeting between Civil Society Organisations ( CSO) and UN rights committee on Monday which was organised with an aim to provide an alternative position on the human rights situation in Malawi mainly focusing on gay rights.

Center for the Development of People (cedep) executive director Gift Trapence called upon the committee to push Malawi government to provide adequate protection against gays in the country.  

Trapence urged the UN rights committee to make a strong recommendation  to Malawi government  to treat everyone  in its territory with respect and as full bearers of rights without discrimination of nay kind, including on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity." 

The Malawi government delegation led by the countries Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Banda has a session with the committee this week to provide responses to human rights issues raised by the UN in respect of the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) country report presented in April 2012

But commenting on the Issue chairperson of the  Malawi Human Rights Commission Sophie Kalinde said Malawi government should be commended  for opening up on the issue of gay rights. 

She said the commission has never received any complaints regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation and that most of the people arrested were on charges of child molestation.  

Meanwhile the  United Nations Humans Rights Committee is now recognizing the gay marriages of all its staffers including those working in its agencies such as the children's agency Unicef and cultural agency UNESCO around the globe.

Previously, the UN only recognized the unions of staffers who came from countries where gay marriage is legal.

U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Monday it would recognize the gay marriages of all its staffers, in a major policy shift that opens the door for the spouses of homosexual employees to enjoy the same benefits as the husbands and wives of their heterosexual colleagues.

"The policy applies to all U.N employees, including those who work at separate agencies and programs such as UNICEF and UNESCO.

The change means gay spouses of U.N. employees can get health insurance coverage and the chance to accompany spouses on their home leave every couple of years, among others.      

According to U.N website, the new policy became effective June 26, and will impact the U.N.'s approximately 43,000 employees worldwide.

Gay marriage is legal in 18 countries with prejudice remaining deep in main countries, and an extreme case is Uganda, which in February this year passed a law making gay sex punishable by a life sentence, according to the Pew Research Center.

Meanwhile, the U.N. General Assembly is underway in Geneva, Switzerland where a Malawi delegation is also in attendance.

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