Homosexuality is when a person feels romantically and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. It is accepted and legal in many countries in the world. In Malawi and other some other African countries, however, it is illegal. The law makes it a crime for both gay men and lesbian women.
Sodomy or anal sex carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison. But Malawian gay rights organisations say this rarely happens and a fine is more common. Outlawing homosexuality is regarded by much of the world as homophobic, discriminatory, and against international human rights. Homophobia is the fear or hatred of people who are lesbian or gay. It often comes from fear and ignorance.
Are there any health risks in being gay? Men who have sex with men (MSM) have much higher rates of HIV than men who don’t. But any sexual intercourse, gay or straight, carries a risk of HIV transmission if you are not using condoms correctly. Unprotected anal sex is the riskiest sex for HIV transmission. Many gay men marry and have children. Most still have same-sex relationships in secret, and they may also pass HIV onto their wives.
The law may criminalise homosexuality but it is a good policy to treat everyone — regardless of their sexual orientation — with respect and dignity. Remember all people have the same human rights. Respect others rights as you expect them to respect yours.
Think you or a friend could be gay? Read more below.