Tuesday, May 25, 2010

House of Representatives on Malawi couple

I hope the Executive Council and the Presiding Bishop speak in support of this action. Interesting that the ABC is in DC today and the next few days- wonder if he will speak. He is at the Building Bridges Conference. Oh what am I thinking - no bridges for GLBT people from him. The only sin in his world is full inclusion.

Calling on the Government of the Republic of Malawi to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, and for other purposes. (Introduced in House)
HRES 1335 IH

2d Session

H. RES. 1335
Calling on the Government of the Republic of Malawi to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, and for other purposes.

May 6, 2010

Mr. KIRK (for himself and Ms. BALDWIN) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

Calling on the Government of the Republic of Malawi to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, and for other purposes.

Whereas the 2009 United States Department of State Human Rights Report on Malawi found that `societal violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation occurred' and stated that `approximately 34 percent of gay men in the country had been blackmailed or denied services such as housing or healthcare due to their sexual orientation';

Whereas high levels of stigma and discrimination, exclusionary policies, and harsh criminal penalties against sexual conduct by consenting adults constitute a fundamental human rights violation and also discourage individuals from accessing needed health services or disclosing their sexual activities to healthcare providers, thereby perpetuating the fear and silence that seriously impede global efforts to reduce incidence of HIV infection;

Whereas, on December 28, 2009, Mr. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Mr. Steven Monjeza, citizens of the Republic of Malawi, were arrested by the Malawian authorities on charges of `committing acts of gross indecency with another male person';

Whereas Mr. Chimbalanga and Mr. Monjeza remain imprisoned and have been repeatedly denied bail, while reports indicate that Mr. Monjeza's health has drastically deteriorated during the prolonged detention;

Whereas, on January 6, 2010, Amnesty International declared Mr. Chimbalanga and Mr. Monjeza `prisoners of conscience' and called for their immediate and unconditional release;

Whereas, on April 1, 2010, Human Rights Watch, in a letter to the Government of Malawi, called `for the dropping of all charges and release of Chimbalanga and Monjeza'; and

Whereas article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Malawi is party, declares that `no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment', while the fundamental principle of nondiscrimination, as enshrined in article 2(1) and article 26 of the ICCPR, extends to all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) calls for an immediate release of Mr. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Mr. Steven Monjeza in accordance with international law and on humanitarian grounds;
(2) urges the Government of the Republic of Malawi to urgently address the pervasive violation of human rights in Malawi and the criminalization of conduct by consenting adults; and
(3) encourages the Secretary of State to closely monitor human rights abuses in Malawi that occur based on sexual orientation and to encourage the release of those individuals detained solely on the basis of sexual orientation.

Title: Calling on the Government of the Republic of Malawi to respect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Kirk, Mark Steven [IL-10] (introduced 5/6/2010)
Cosponsors (5)
Latest Major Action: 5/6/2010 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 5/6/2010
Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20] - 5/20/2010
Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 5/20/2010
Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7] - 5/12/2010
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 5/20/2010


Counterlight said...

Madpriest has posted the following on his blog:

Statement from the Anglican Bishops in Southern Africa on the Imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga

We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa call upon the Government of South Africa to seek the release of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were recently sentenced in Malawi to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour, after they shared in a traditional ceremony of engagement.

As we have previously stated, though there is a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we are united in opposing the criminalisation of homosexual people. We see the sentence that has been handed down to these two individuals as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such sentences and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity. .

These principles are at the heart of South Africa's own Constitution, whose provisions we see as setting an example for the world to follow. We therefore call on our President and Government to pursue the same values and standards for the upholding of human well-being, dignity and respect, in our external relations; to engage in dialogue with their counterparts on the rights of minorities; and to oppose any measures which demean and oppress individuals, communities, or groups of people. In particular we call on our President and Government to lobby the Government of Malawi at every level to uphold the commitment it shares through the SADC treaty to promote human rights (Article 4). We urge them to press for the swift release of these two individuals, who have committed no act of violence or harm against anyone; for the quashing of the sentence against them; and for the repeal of this repressive legislation.

More generally, we wish to reiterate our deep concern at the violent language used against the gay community across Sub-Saharan Africa, and at the increased legal action being taken against gay individuals, communities and organisations. Even in South Africa we are aware of instances of violence against the gay and lesbian community. We therefore appeal to law-makers everywhere to defend the rights of these minorities.

As Bishops we believe that it is immoral to permit or support oppression of, or discrimination against, people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and contrary to the teaching of the gospel; particularly Jesus’ command that we should love one another as he has loved us, without distinction (John 13:34-35). We commit ourselves to teach, preach and act against any laws that undermine human dignity and oppress any and all minorities, even as we call for Christians and all people to uphold the standards of holiness of life.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

Thanks to Madpriest.

So the South African bishops broke through the scandalous silence surrounding this case with a clear and strong statement. I hope this will inspire other mitered heads around the world to find their courage.
I'm hoping that our PB is consulting with the Standing Committee right now about a similar statement. Perhaps this will put some pressure on them to take a similar public stand.

Thank you South Africa's Anglican bishops!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Amen, amen!