Some promising news coming out of Africa, where the retired presidents of Botswana and Zambia are calling for the decriminalization of sodomy statute. The harsh penalties encourage anti-gay sentiment and dissuade gay men who are HIV positive against seeking treatment, said former Presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia.
The two said [in Lilongwe] while on a tour of Malawi that such an approach would likely yield better results in Africa. The remarks by the retired leaders could reignite homosexuality debate in the southern Africa country and may eventually reduce the stigma currently associated with the sex orientation. .. In Malawi, HIV prevalence stands at around 12 per cent, with most efforts to assist those infected being directed towards heterosexuals.
Mogae, who chairs ‘Champions of an HIV-Free Generation’ that comprise prominent African anti-Aids activists, said homosexuals and sex workers were part of society and they should not be stigmatised or discriminated. "People who practice homosexuality should not be criminalized or stigmatize to avoid the spread of new infections," said Mogae.
The former Botswana president appealed to African governments to provide condoms in prison as he said it is where there is a lot of breed of HIV infection through homosexual acts."Why is it that men who go to prison without HIV infection when they come out they are tested positive," he said.
Sodomy and/or same-sex relations are illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa. Malawi boasts one of the harshest anti-gay laws on the continent. Homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment or a death sentence. Activists in Botswana's small LGBT community have sued the government over its anti-sodomy laws.
The Malawian couple Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were the focus of international attention last summer after they were sentenced to 14 years' hard labor for holding an engagement ceremony. Only one week after their pardon by President Bingu wa Mutharika, Monjeza publicly renounced Chimbalanga and announced his engagement to a woman named Dorothy Gulo.