Police accused of frequent arrests of LGBTIQ+ community

Nyasa Rainbow Alliance (NRA) has accused Police of making frequent arrests of LGBTIQ+ people of their sexual orientation.

NRA Programme and Operations Manager, George Kachimanga said this in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) in Lilongwe 

He said the arrests are being made because the LGBTIQ+ persons are lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, and intersex among others. 

Kachimanga said there have been persistent reports of human rights violations of LGBTIQ+ persons by the Police, including unlawful detention, extortion, threats of disclosure of confidential information, denial of legal protection as well as physical violence in detention. 

He said that,  “The Police seldom render assistance to LGBTIQ+ persons who have been assaulted as a result of their status, or for any other criminal complaint they may have.” 

The Manager added they threaten to reveal the complainant’s sexual orientation to family members, friends or colleagues to obtain a confession.

He revealed that some Police officers have been forcing some LGBTIQ+ detainees to submit to genital verification without their consent in order to ascertain whether they are male or female. 

Kachimanga said on October 20, 2021, Mangochi Police Station arrested a transgender woman, Jana Gonani on allegation that she was identifying herself as a woman when she was a man.

“It is on record that while at Mangochi Police Station; Gonani was forced to submit to genital verification without her consent by a male Police officer where she was placed in a male cell despite identifying herself as female,” he explained.  

He said if that is not enough, Gonani was subjected to medical examination without her consent in order to verify her mental faculties simply because of her sexual orientation. 

NRA Executive Director, Eric Sambisa said the choice and freedom to decide on how to have consensual carnal knowledge with fellow adults, including gender of that person was intimately within an ambit of personal autonomy wherein an individual is entitled to be free from state interference. 

Nyasa Rainbow Alliance addressing media in Blantyre recently

He said the right to liberty in section 18 of the constitution guarantees everyone the freedom to have sexual intercourse with people that they feel attracted to without being interfered by the state. 

“Thus, the criminalization of other ways of obtaining sexual gratification is restricting individual persons from realizing their personal preferences,” Sambisa said. 

 He said restriction violates the right to personal liberty as liberty presumes an autonomy of ‘self’ that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.

“It is our considered opinion that all cases of violence and discrimination of the LGBTIQ+ persons are being instigated by draconian laws that the government is refusing to repeal as people harassing the LGBTIQ+ persons are hiding behind the said laws to advance their selfish motives against the LGBTIQ+ persons,” Executive Directive noted.

National Police Spokesperson, Peter Kalaya said Nyasa Rainbow Alliance have presented their concerns to government other institutions in the country for redress.

He said government spokesperson would reply to their concerns at an appropriate time in due course.