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Malawi police arrest one Gay man, hunt for more
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Malawi police arrest one Gay man, hunt for more

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Police in the African country of Malawi announced the arrest of a Gay man February 15 on charges of sodomy, and revealed they are hunting for a 'network of homosexuals' throughout the country.

'Yes, we have arrested one Mr. Tony Chirwa after a complaint that he sodomized a young man,' police spokesman Dave Chingwalu told reporters on February 15.

"He asked the young man to undress and he sodomized him and the young man reported the incident to police," said Chingwalu.

Chingwalu also claimed that a medical report submitted to the Chief Resident Magistrates Court in Malawi's capital, Blantyre, indicated that traces of semen were found on the young man.

The suspect is a 60-year-old weaver living alone in the capital.

Chingwalu also told reporters that police had uncovered a network of high-profile people who are involved homosexual acts.

"Some are white expatriates, some are priests, while others are university lecturers," he said.

Chingwalu declined to name members of this network or provide reporters any other details since "investigations are still underway," but promised, "We will arrest them all."

"We know many innocent poor Malawians are being sodomized but cannot come out because these people are taking advantage of their vulnerability because of poverty," he said.

Meanwhile Dave Mpanda, a 29-year-old soccer coach, was sentenced to a 10-year jail term following his conviction on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old boy.

Earlier this month 21-year-old Gay Malawian activist Peter Sawali was arrested for putting up Gay rights posters. At that time, police suggested he might be linked to an international Gay conspiracy.

Police are also known to be hunting for an underground group operating under the name Broad Coalition, which has been distributing Gay rights flyers.

Malawi's LGBT community first hit the news in December 2009 when Steven Monjeza and his Transgender bride Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested after their wedding and charged with "gross indecency." If convicted, they face up to 14 years in prison.

Human rights activists charged that police activity was part of a calculated anti-Gay campaign linked to fundamentalist groups in the United States.

"In Malawi it's a complete witch-hunt that denies the people the right to self-determination," said Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, based in South Africa. "We are deeply concerned about this spate of homophobia across the continent."

"It's very well calculated," Mtetwa told The Guardian newspaper. "It's exploding at the moment but it's been happening for a year and a half."

Mtetwa specifically pointed to "American evangelical churches driving the religious fundamentalism in Uganda," charging that the anti-Gay campaign in Malawi is orchestrated from outside the country.

The secretive US evangelical group known as The Fellowship, The Family, or the C Street Group is known to have close ties to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. They reportedly want to cultivate similar relationships with other African leaders.

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