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Gay activist arrested in Malawi
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Gay activist arrested in Malawi

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A man has been arrested in the African nation of Malawi for putting up posters advocating LGBT rights.

Peter Sawali, 21, was arrested with stacks of posters which read 'Gay rights are human rights.' Police say they believe he is part of an international Gay conspiracy because of the number and quality of the posters.

"We are still investigating because we believe there is a chain of people who were working with Mr. Sawali," police spokesperson Dave Chingwalu said.

"We cannot rule out international sponsors because of the quality and the quantity of the posters," Chingwalu added. "They might even have been produced outside."

Chingwalu said that Sawali will be charged with "conduct likely to cause a breach of peace," a misdemeanor that could be punished with a fine of up to 5,000 kwacha (about $35) or up to three months in jail.

The Malawian human rights group Broad Coalition has distributed leaflets, posters and pictures promoting LGBT rights, but keeps the names of its members secret.

Another recently formed group, the Center for the Development of People, says studies show that Malawi's homophobic laws inhibit international efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/ AIDS.

Malawi's government has been the target of international criticism for the prosecution of Steven Monjeza and his Transgender bride Tiwonge Chimbalanga, arrested after their December 27 wedding.

Monjeza and Chimbalanga are charged with "gross indecency" under a Malawian law forbidding homosexuality. If convicted they face up to 14 years in prison.

Mauya Msuku, the couple's lawyer, said the laws under which they were charged are archaic and unconstitutional.

"The penal code criminalizes homosexuality or same-sex marriages but under the Bill of Rights in the new Constitution it is clearly stated that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of - among other things - sexual orientation," he said.

Malawi's Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto said Monjeza and Chimbalanga were "clearly breaking the laws of Malawi."

"Despite Malawi depending on international aid, the country is a sovereign country with its own laws and must not be influenced by the West in the running of its affairs of state," Thoto said.

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