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Kill Us, or Gives Us Gays Equal Rights

by our Editors in History & Politics , 17 februari 2016

Eric Samisa, 26, made a brave but also dangerous decision. He publicly came out of the closet in the African country of Malawi, where theoretically, homosexuality is still criminalised. Mr Samisa had his coming out on national TV and said that the government urgently needed to come to a decision: "Or you kill us all, or you give us equal rights, so that we don't have to go underground and live like second rate citizens."

Shortly after the interview, which was also printed in the newspapers, he was arrested by the police, but released that very same day. He has gone into hiding again for his own safety.

In theory, homosexuality in Malawi is still punishable with 14 years in solitary confinement. However in 2012, the government partially abolished this law, making homosexuals live in a kind of twilight zone in which it is not clear whether or not homosexuality is still punishable. Mr Samisa wants the government to bring more clarity to the situation as quickly as possible, so that he and other LGBTs no longer have to live in fear and ignorance.

According to Mr Samisa, the lives of LGBTs in Malawi have slightly improved since the arrival of social media in the country, making it easier for LGBTs to find and unite each other.

At the moment, there are 17 African countries in which homosexuality has not been criminalised. But these countries, with the exception of South-Africa, have no other form of equal rights legislation, and in some of those countries a gay marriage ban is still in effect. The 17 African countries in which homosexuality has never been criminalised are: Benin - Burkina Faso - Cape Verde - Ivory Coast - Central African Republic - Chad - Djibouti - Guinea-Bissau - Equatorial-Guinea - Gabon - Lesotho - Mali - Niger - Democratic Republic of Congo, and South-Africa.



In the New Issue of Gay News, 314, October 2017

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