Before we close out the year we have to give a nod to the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) in Malawi, has won the 2010 AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) HIV, TB and Human Rights Award. ARASA is a partnership of over 50 civil society organisations working together to promote a human rights based response to HIV and TB in the SADC region. In 2010, CEDEP was instrumental in successfully mobilising international and regional support for the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, arrested in Malawi on December 28 2009, on charges of “gross indecency and unnatural acts” after they engaged in a same-sex civil union. They were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour, but received a Presidential pardon following pressure from regional and international bodies. CEDEP winning this award is also especially relevant in the current climate of increasing anti homosexuality in the region. Just in the last few weeks news of a wave of anti homosexuality has once again hit the region with countries moving with co-ordinated purpose to eliminate the rights of sexual minority groups. At the United Nations, African and Arab nations succeeded in deleting three words from a resolution that would have included gays in a denunciation of arbitrary killings. Surprisingly, South Africa also supported the removal of these words from the draft resolution – given that South Africa’s Constitution–as an exception in Southern Africa–protects the rights of sexual minorities.–Brett Davidson.
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December 22, 2010