HIV policy makes sense

Our government has started to deal with the hot potatoe: HIV services for MSM (Men having Sex with Men).

Government has applied for funds from the Global Fund for HIV/Aids, Malaria, and TBC to create MSM friendly services for prevention and treatment of HIV/Aids. This makes sense: many MSM also have heterosexual contacts, so if they are kept out of the loop, HIV will be reintroduced to the general population indefinitely.

While at the moment it seems politically risky to decriminalize MSM, this is a step in the right direction. On the other hand our minister of information has shown how useless a minister of information is: Jappie Mhango (the man who started at this post by refusing to give information!) now has added to the confusion: “Malawi is not ready for gay marriage because it is uncultured” he declared. Apart from being a circular reasoning, he is off topic: we are not discussing gay marriage, we are discussing MSM friendly services. Marriage is a different matter altogether.

However Solicitor General and Secretary for Justice, Janet Banda, spoke wisely when she said: “Government is encouraging free debate and has also invited through a press briefing civil society to work with government to educate the rural masses especially the grass roots on the importance of sexual minority rights so that we generate or cultivate a culture of acceptance in the country.” That is clear language, that shows the government is moving in the direction of protection of human rights.

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