The Association for Secular Humanism
P.O. Box 2340 Tel /Cell: + 265 88 8853150
Lilongwe email: email@example.com
7th December, 2010
URGENT AND CONFIDENTIAL
The State President of the Republic of Malawi,
Ngwazi Professor Bingu wa Mutharika
State House, Lilongwe
RE: CRIMINALISATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY ACTS IN THE PENAL CODE PASSED BY PARLIAMENT AND AWAITING PRESIDENTIAL CONSENT
We, Secular Humanists put life on this earth and the well-being of our fellow man at the centre of our lives. We promote a free-thinking spirit of enquiry, rejecting all dogma.
Knowledge grows as a result of free enquiry. New knowledge influences societal attitudes and promotes change as it spreads. The rejection of knowledge as a result of pre-held dogmatic beliefs is to be decried. As Sir W. Drummond said: He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; he that dares not reason is a slave.
It is bigotry that influences debate on homosexuality in Malawi. We believe that most of our fellow men are well-able to reason for themselves. Those who have the ability to reason but dare not because of the fear of condemnation, by faith groups in particular are, indeed, slaves to organizations that historically have often attempted to halt the advance of knowledge.
It is true that most Malawians, often prompted by ignorance and fear, currently claim to be disgusted at the thought of same sex relationships. A more tolerant attitude can only be encouraged by dissemination of the facts that have been revealed by recent discoveries in the fields of genetics, inter-uterine foetal development and exploratory scans of the sentient brain. It is a responsibility of Government to promote scientific research and critical thinking. This may be contrary to the wishes of various faith groups but Government must provide balanced leadership.
Your Excellency, we believe that you are capable of assessing the evidence and will have no fear of publicly accepting the inevitable outcome by refusing to approve of Parliament’s move to criminalize same sex relationships between consenting female adults and will subsequently initiate moves to decriminalize same-sex relationships between consenting adult males.
Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice. Research indicates that it is a natural state that comes about by a mixture of genetics and development in the womb. The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2007) stated: “It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment.” Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice. Professor M. King of the University College of London states: The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice.
It is obvious from this that homosexual man has no more control over his attraction for his own sex than heterosexuals for the opposite sex. Sexual attraction is one of the strongest ‘forces’ in nature. It is no more sensible to expect a homosexual to practice celibacy than for heterosexuals. To punish anyone for following their own nature is unjust.
Homosexuals, by virtue of sexual orientation, constitute an identifiable group. As such, they are entitled to the protection under Section 20 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination “.. under any law..” on the grounds of “… other status.” Therefore, we consider that the existing law is discriminatory as is the law currently awaiting your consent.
Same-sex relationships are ‘crimes’ without victims. It is our belief that the law should not criminalize an activity that does no harm. We ask, also, what conviction and imprisonment is expected to achieve. It CANNOT change a person’s natural sexual orientation. It does not protect society since homosexuals are not intent on persuading heterosexual persons to change their sexual orientation and adopt a homosexual lifestyle.
Homosexuals do not pose a danger to society. Government should not be a slave to religious dogmas. Sir, you will notice that many known homosexuals are very talented and productive members of society. The performing arts are particularly blessed with their talents. They live and work in tolerant and understanding societies. They cause no damage. For example, you will have seen Anderson Cooper on CNN who hosts his own current affairs programme. He is homosexual. Would you want to imprison him if he lived in Malawi? Sir Elton John’s music has brought pleasure to millions. His touching performance at the funeral of Lady Diana is still remembered by many. He is ‘gay’. Would you want to imprison him in Malawi? Certainly, not. Then why would we want to imprison our own brothers and sisters who, by an accident of birth or early development, are different from the majority? Why should we expect them to live a lie and hide their true personalities from family and friends?
We entreat you to reject bigotry, follow reason and reject the slavery of the mind. In this way, Sir, you will have no difficulty in resisting the criminalization of ‘lesbian’ acts and will, we hope, promote the repeal of the current cruel and discriminatory laws and not to consent to the current revision on lesbian acts in the Penal Code. Our laws should also be in conformity with global trends so that Malawi does not become a focus on unnecessary ridicule.
Association for Secular Humanism