A bisexual Malawian mother is fighting to stay in Scotland with her three children over fears that her family would be subjected to homophobia and genital mutilation in Africa.
Angeline Pirira Mwafulirwa could be deported back to Malawi, where homosexuality is currently illegal. Mwafulirwa arrived in Scotland with her husband in 2006, but left him for a woman once in the United Kingdom. Now, she fears she could be sent back to Malawi and face the ire of her ex-husband and his family. Mwafulirwa also believes her two daughters could be subjected to female genital mutilation, and be married off by 14.
Mwafulirwa is being supported by asylum advocates in Scotland — she recently had a meeting with Scottish officials, who are reviewing her case. Mwafulirwa’s story is similar to that of another LGBT Malawi woman, Florence Mhango. That woman was not granted asylum and her whereabouts are not known.
Disneyland champions gay rights in Japan
Disneyland has become an unlikely champion of gay rights in Japan, allowing same-sex couples to marry on its premises, even though same-sex relationships have no legal recognition in the country.
Disneyland Tokyo has announced this week that it would allow gay couples to wed on its grounds, after one 27-year old woman, Koyuki Higashi, who wanted to marry her partner Hiroko, inquired about it.
Higashi wrote on her blog that she was originally told that the ceremony would only be possible if they were dressed “like a man and a woman.” However, the Tokyo Disney Resort eventually confirmed that this was a misunderstanding, and that same-sex couples were welcome to have ceremonies at the resort, although not in the chapel due to what they described as “Christian teachings.”
The only remaining obstacle, however, is money. A ceremony in Cinderella’s Castle, with the main Disney characters on the guest list, would cost 7.5 million Yen ($93,847).
However, in a country where homosexuality is still taboo and the first openly gay politician was elected last year, the news was greeted with enthusiasm by local gay-rights activists.
Malawi: New president ‘to decriminalize homosexuality’
The Malawian president has said she will repeal the laws that make it illegal to be gay in the central African state, it has been reported.
In a speech to parliament, president Joyce Banda said, “The Indecency and Unnatural Acts laws shall be repealed.”
Banda took office last month after President Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack.
Mutharika pardoned two citizens on “humanitarian grounds only” after they were charged on homosexuality offenses.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga had attempted a marriage ceremony, with confusion over whether the latter identified as a trans woman in some reports.
Pardoning the couple from charges of gross indecency and unnatural acts, Mutharika had said: “These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws. However, as the head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions.”
In December 2011, the Malawian Justice Minister, Ephraim Chiume, included the country’s antigay laws On a list of legislation he wants reviewed, saying the rules may not reflect “public opinion.”
Chiume said, “In view of the sentiments from the general public and in response to public opinion regarding certain laws, the government wishes to announce to the Malawi nation that it is submitting the relevant laws and provisions of laws to the Law Commission for review.”
Zimbabwe rejects gay rights, says gay people will be imprisoned
After meeting with the United Nations human rights chief, the justice minister of Zimbabwe vowed not to recognize any gay rights, and also rejected all allegations that the country harbors state-sponsored violence.
Navi Pillai, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was in Harare to assess the human-rights situation there while, in a joint statement, 36 groups said they would boycott a meeting with her arranged by the justice ministry at the Parliament, on account of it being “fraudulent.”
Patrick Chinamasa, the country’s justice minister, claimed in a press conference that there was no state-sponsored violence, and that he had conveyed as much to Pillai.
However, he added that Zimbabwe will continue to arrest members of the same sex who engage in sexual activity, which is illegal in the country.
Chinamasa told reporters: “We made it clear that in our law homosexual activities are criminalized and that any person who commits homosexual activities will be arrested.”
President Robert Mugabe has previously compared gay people to dogs, and has repeatedly rejected any push for gay rights, condemning Britain for supporting what he called “gay filth.”
Buenos Aires allows same-sex marriages for tourists
The Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires is opening up marriage equality to same-sex couples visiting the city.
The South American nation has offered same-sex marriage since 2010, but now the option will be available to Buenos Aires tourists who place a request five days in advance. Couples must also provide a temporary address while in the city.
City officials suggest that couples intending to marry hire a local lawyer to help them file the appropriate paperwork. The attorneys should also be able to point out if the Buenos Aires nuptials will have any recognition in the couples’ home nations.
Ukraine police shut down gay Pride march
Amnesty International May 21 criticized the Kiev, Ukraine, police for canceling the city’s first gay Pride parade citing safety concerns.
Police shut down the parade May 20 — 30 minutes before it was due to start — because, they said, about 500 ultraconservative protestors were en route to the parade’s rally point, Amnesty International stated in a release.
“It has been clear from the start that the Kiev police department did not want this march to go ahead. Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organizers fearing for their safety,” said Max Tucker, Ukraine activist at Amnesty International.
A senior police official, whose name was not reported, had told parade organizers he would not put officers in harm’s way for the event, Amnesty International said.
“The Kiev authorities and police must work harder to ensure [that] next year Pride participants can feel confident they will be protected,” said Tucker.
A group of about a dozen youths assaulted and used tear gas on two march participants after the evacuation of the parade route, the release said.
French PM to implement marriage, adoption rights for gays
The new French prime minister has announced a commitment to implement new president François Hollande’s pledge to equalize the laws on marriage for gay and straight couples.
The country will also allow gay couples to adopt children for the first time.
A memo issued by the office of the prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who took office May 15, marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with a pledge to put the president’s manifesto promise into law.
It said: “On the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the prime minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment against violence and discrimination perpetrated as a result of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
While gay and straight French couples can currently enter Civil Solidarity Pacts or PACS, only straight couples can marry.
Though affording many legal protections, a PACS does not give couples the right to joint adoption or artificial insemination.
— compiled by Larry Nichols