Gay Couple in Malawi Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison...

Comments

1
Yikes.
2
A lot of that aid is from NGOs and church-based orgs. Good luck with that.
3
for the crime of being a gay couple:


Or for the crime of being perceived as a gay couple.
4
And anyway, most of that aid doesn't ever get to the everyday people anyway where that bigotry lives. It just goes into the pockets of a few rich politicians who, in addition to being bigots, are even more repulsive for stealing money that's designated for their dying, disease-ridden populace.
5
Dan,
I don't disagree but couldn't that be said of countries that practice ANY violation of human rights (human trafficking, sex slavery, female circumcision etc.)? The countries most affected are very poor ones and usually in Africa. And the ones that would suffer would be ordinary very poor citizens not the prick (judge) who sentenced that unfortunate couple.

I agree it is hugely problematic but the solutions might be as well.
6
Dan, do you have any idea how fucking stupid you sound when you advocate for making foreign aid decisions based on a single human rights issue? Forty percent of the population of Malawi lives in poverty, and it's not like they all take part in government there. But yeah, let's just let all those people rot because they have a prejudice that offends you. I'm sure that'll drive the country towards progressive western democracy.

One would think, after your call on the Iraq war, you might learn to shut the fuck up on foreign policy issues.
7
Madonna should pull some stings. Isn't she opening a bunch of orphanages/schools there? And, unlike Oprah's super academy, these are more bare-bones to help more children?
9
Women are treated like crap in most of the third world.
What'say we deal with that issue affecting a couple of Billion victims before we force other nations to accept homosexual marriage that the voters in each and every American state that got a say have rejected.

Dan, perhaps you could target your private charitible donations, however.
You know- really make that $300 a year work.....
10
Something the US has done in other countries is to give the same amount of aid, but direct it entirely through NGOs and the like, and bypass the government. I don't know the particular breakdown of US aid to Malawi - but that seems like a reasonable solution. I know we have peace corps there, and withdrawing them might be a good action to take (and justified - there are lots of LGBT volunteers and they need to be protected from these unjust laws).
11
Well, for those of you who think other human rights issues trump homosexuality, let's think of a place where poverty isn't involved:

Supposedly, Michael Patrick King (Mr. Sex in the City) visited Abu Dhabi to do research for the sequel. I hope he didn't get up to any sex in that city while he was there.

Abu Dhabi Penal Code makes sodomy punishable with imprisonment of up to 14 years.

Unless the male writer of the Sex in the City isn't gay. In which case, let me re-do just about my entire world view.

I guess what I mean is that any gay man who makes an entire film travelogue showcasing a country where gay men have been imprisoned for "homosexual practices" as recently as 2005 without mentioning this consistently in the film and in the promotional stuff is a coward and a kiss-ass.
----
Yes, this is a thread derail and a re-post from a comment I made elsewhere that I also posted on my blog, but I'm getting sick and tired of a movie that's going to suck up so many gays like 20-something me in the backroom of a leather bar getting a free pass because it has a gay commitment ceremony and Liza Minnelli
12
@6 - give Dan a break. We all feel helpless in the face of this horrendous news ... all the harder when there's nothing we can realistically do. Is Amnesty Int'l getting involved?
13
Secretary of State Clinton, hear our plea! Stop this cruelty and madness before it spreads!
14
#11- the film was actually shot in Morocco, not Abu Dhabi, as the Emirates refused their request to shoot there. I don't know what the sodomy laws are in Morocco, and frankly don't really care.
15
As I already pointed out when Dan first made this idiotic suggestion for Uganda, poverty breeds bigotry. Hold back foreign aid and you remove the only thing that will ever change things in Malawi and other third world countries. But, as usual, Dan doesn't give a shit about practicality or doing the right thing. He only cares about political grandstanding.
16
There isn't a particularly effective antidote to bigotry, but history suggests one of the better antidotes is prosperity. Cutting aid will only undermine that.
17
@15: You're way smarter than Dan and the entire State Department, punkin.
18
@15 You claim that "Dan doesn't give a shit about practicality or doing the right thing" while apparently ignoring the fact that a couple has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for something that should not be considered a crime. Granted making foreign aid for millions contingent on the treatment of two people would be pretty loony, but only if it were that simple.

You claim that withholding foreign aid will "remove the only thing that will ever change things in Malawi and other third world countries". So your solution is to continue providing foreign aid and hope that our benevolence will cause Malawi and other countries to change?
19
Malawi is dependent on foreign aid—most of it from Britain and the US—and that aid should be withdrawn.

A lot of that aid is for HIV medications and treatment (about one million people in Malawi - 1 in 14 people - are HIV+).

So, Dan, you're advocating that hundreds of thousands of Malawians, including tens of thousands of Malawian children, should die of AIDS because their government is bigoted against gays? Really?

That's moral idiocy of such a high order that it's sort of impossible to comprehend.
20
19
wow
with that many AIDS cases you'd think they would be bigger fans of Men having Sex with Men.....
21
@20, I don't really know what point you're trying to make, but in any event the Malawian HIV epidemic is almost entirely heterosexually driven.
22
Qunited States of Gaymerica

From the CDC:

"Consider these facts:

"AIDS has been diagnosed for more than half a million MSM.

"Over 300,000 MSM with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic.

"MSM make up more than two thirds (68%) of all men living with HIV, even though only about 4% of men in the United States reported having sex with other men."
23
Those numbers are true for the US. Not Africa. African AIDS comes from a different strain of the HIV virus that specifically thrives when transmitted heterosexually (eg through mucous membranes) whereas American AIDS comes from a strain that thrives in the blood vessels.
24
A lot of silly, self-righteous outrage in this thread.

We are talking about foreign aid here, limited help. Many of you sound off with a philosophy of moral imperative to help everyone that would seemingly justify taking over these backward places.

It is not out of line, morally or practically, for an advanced nation giving aid to one that is not to require the recipient to meet basic and fundamental human rights guarantees recognized by civilized nations. There are more poor nations than we can effectively help. There are more crises and more oppressed populations than foreign aid can cure. So we have the right and duty to send our aid to places who think like we do, who try to behave like we do, who understand basic decency.

You all concerned about doing the right thing, keshmeshi and judah? Then how about you two go take the place of one of these poor guys in prison. Then we can talk about the greater good, and weigh your freedoms against the effectiveness of foreign aid.
25
So Malawian gays are oppressed and poor, and the idea is to help them by making them oppressed and poorer? It's not like the foreign aid is distributed to straight people only, methinks. Make life more of a hell for Malawians and you're making it more of a hell for gay Malawians too.
26
@24 Alanmt, excellent points. There has been foreign aid going to Africa for a long time, and there is still bigotry and poverty, in part because very few of those dollars reach the people for whom they are intended. Tying aid dollars to basic human rights will hurt those in power first, and could be a powerful motivator. It would be great if aid dollars were sent in a pipeline directly to needy communities, but anyone who has seen multiple government Mercedes sedans (paid for with your government's aid money) driving past Nairobi's slums can tell you that isn't the case there, or in most other African countries. There SHOULD be outrage about this case, it should gain major media attention and scare Malawi's ruling class. The idea that aid dollars will, over time, simply transform a country into one of tolerance is ridiculous and misguided. Aid should be tied to Western standards of human rights (yes, I'm aware of the irony, Guantanamo...) if change is truly going to occur over time.
27
@17

Oh, really? Well if you think that, you're clearly not. See #26 and do your homework before embarrassing yourself.
28
@15 cause the money we're giving them is really civilising them right now...

Fuck that stupid country. I don't want them receiving a single penny of my cash.
29
If this sort of inhuman treatment is considered a minor issue to stop aid money for, then it should be a minor issue for their government to make adjustments to their bigoted law in order to keep receiving our aid.

Personally, I'm too angry and upset by this right now to consider giving any personal donations in the future.
30
Aid should be tied to Western standards of human rights (yes, I'm aware of the irony, Guantanamo...) if change is truly going to occur over time.

The irony isn't just Guantanamo. Lawrence v. Texas was only seven years ago. Western standards on this issue are not all that far ahead of the ones in Malawi, and while foreign aid is a legitimate tool for influencing the activities of foreign governments, it's bad policy to expect those governments to march lock-step in time with changes in American political thought on what most people regard as a relatively obscure human rights issue. It's like, "Oh, hey, there was this genocide in Rwanda. There are child soldiers in Uganda. Child slavery in the Ivory Coast. And, in other news, Malawi is locking people up for having gay sex." Well hey, fuck it, let's cut off all foreign aid to Malawi over that issue.
31
@30 No, North America doesn't have a lock on human rights standards, but we aren't throwing people in jail for 14 years for being gay, we don't condone slavery (beyond minimum wage, anyway,) point is, there needs to be a benchmark. While it's easy to dismiss this particular case as small potatoes in light of the other massive fuckups occuring on the continent, improvement has to start somewhere, and a list of things we don't allow as aid-givers should include both slavery and jail time for sexual orientation, among other things. When I lived in Kenya, the population was doubling every 7 years, the average family had 8 kids, on a landscape that could barely support replacement levels of population. At that time, foreign aid was not allowed to be tied to contraception, in part because the Catholic church was so influential. So, no, I'm not remotely naive enough to think African countries will march "in lock step" with our political agenda, when aid workers couldn't even distribute birth control (at least not officially, back then). But if we had a "take it or leave it" approach to aid, and if OUR government had the balls to take a stand (free contraception, no prosecution for orientation, etc.) regardless of which lobby or church objected, then perhaps some progress might be made.
32
Dan,

Do your homework.

No US aid to Malawi is channeled through the Malawi government. Zero. The US, like Japan, channels all of its aid through NGOs.

So, how exactly would your proposed aid cutoff affect Malawi's homophobic government?

This latest crusade is reminiscent of your racist diatribe after Prop 8 passed. I would think you'd be a little more careful after that revealing episode.
33
Dan:

Are you aware that recon.com has a whole fundraising thing focused on malawi? another issue that should probably be addressed
34
Here's a list of all publicly available data on United States aid to Malawi in the last five years:

http://www.aiddata.org/search/results?re…

As the above commenter notes, much of this aid is directed through NGO's, which implement programs both in conjunction with government offices and independently through NGO's.Because much work is done in conjunction with government (eg, by funding programs at a village health clinic or renovating a school), it's not really accurate to say that "no US aid goes to Malawi's government," but rather that the aid is administered through NGO's.

As you can see, much of the aid for which Dan is calling us to cut involves family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, primary education, food security, environmental protection, agricultural development, fighting tuberculosis and malaria, and a wide variety of other development activities. Contrary to the claims above, it is much more likely that cuts to these programs will negatively affect the country's poorest citizens. It will have less of an impact on their leaders.

Also, stop stereotyping Africa, people. Malawi is fairly well-governed. Corruption is not as big of a problem there as it is elsewhere on the continent.
35
"Forty percent of the population of Malawi lives in poverty,"

So they can afforfd this bigotry?

" and it's not like they all take part in government there. "

And whose fault is that? They can get up off their ass and take power. Or is that going to take a US invasion too, George?

"So, Dan, you're advocating that hundreds of thousands of Malawians, including tens of thousands of Malawian children, should die of AIDS because their government is bigoted against gays? Really?
That's moral idiocy of such a high order that it's sort of impossible to comprehend. "

You're the moral idiot, and it isn't hard to see why things are "impossible to comprehend" (Sheesh, hyperbole much?) First off the huge majority of those HIV positive Malawians are straight, so they can decide between their bigotry and their lives and frankly I couldn't care less which way they decide if it gets the law changed. Secondly, if those straight people, the parents of those "tens of thousands of Malawian children" are willing to imperil aid to these children through their own bigotry, then these kids are at worse risk than we can do anything about.

You both seem to be arguing that it is acceptable to throw gay people under the bus because pushing back might endanger some straight people and their get. Because God forbid anyone hold photogenically pathetic Third Worlders to account for anything. You are both moral cripples.
36
Apartheid is apartheid, whether imposed by whites on blacks as was the case in South Africa, or straights on gays as is the case in much of Africa. Both are violations of basic human rights. Economic sanctions wre appropriate in the first situation and should be imposed in the second.

Dan, begin the work in your own back yard. The Gates Foundation is one of the largest donors in Malawi. They should make clear that there will be no new grants or renewals until the law is changed and gays are not discriminated against.

There are a lot of other places that can make good use of the resources.
37
Give Africans the choice of autonomy or death and their leaders might well choose death...for their citizens, at least. Look at Zimbabwe. Bingu wa Muthafukay supports Mugabe, despite the horrendous damage and suffering he has done.

Besides, wouldn't this be akin to a church group saying, we'll give you food, as long as you stone homosexuals, or at least put them in repairative therapy?
38
But if we had a "take it or leave it" approach to aid, and if OUR government had the balls to take a stand (free contraception, no prosecution for orientation, etc.) regardless of which lobby or church objected, then perhaps some progress might be made.

I don't read it as a lack of balls. I just read it as a belief that there are other issues of greater priority that can and should be pursued there. Of course Africa's a huge continent with a lot of people, and it's a very complicated place. But some of the most medieval draconian shit that still happens on the planet happens in Africa. So yeah, there are bigger fish to fry there. Sorry.

That said, my actual complaint here is that Dan just lacks all credibility on this issue. His record of commentary on foreign policy basically comes down to this, and advocating for the invasion of Iraq. The common thread I see in those two positions is an ethnocetricism that is -- well, pretty much what one would expect from a Midwestern Catholic, actually. And as far as that goes, the only reason Dan isn't a typical Midwestern Catholic is because he's gay. Had he not been forced to be a radical liberal, he'd be just as fucking sold out and useless as the Democrats he criticizes. And, like a common Democrat, when push comes to shove his solution to most problems is, "Fuck everybody else. Make sure my interests are taken care of." Give him a choice between a one in a million chance that he might be killed by a terrorist, and carpet bombing the entire Middle East, Dan's in favor of carpet bombing the entire Middle East. Give him a choice between gay rights in Malawi and starvation, crime, disease, and misery in Malawi, Dan's in favor of cutting aid. Does he boycott China for its human rights abuses? No. That'd take some balls and some effort. But self-righteous condemnation of Africa -- the poorest most fucked-over and fucked-up continent on the planet -- that he can manage because, in practical terms, it's low-hanging fruit. He can advocate for it loudly and there's no chance it will every inconvenience him or obligate him to action of any kind.
39
Jesus, what's with all the assholes going after Dan today?

Cut their frickin' aid. The idea that my gay tax dollars are flowing into that country is inexcusable.

Governments like Malawi's pay attention to economic boycott which in this case is a totally valid stance.

Fuck all you trolls...
40
There are tons of trolls on here today. #9's comment is particularly idiotic. As if my equal civil and human rights need any majority's approval. Whatever... consider the source.

However, the back and forth discussion is revealing a spirited debate among those whose commentary is based on thoughtful fact-based consideration of a difficult issue. Perhaps, like most problems, the solution lies somewhere in between "cut off all aid and let 'em rot" and "keep the spigot on full blast and hope prosperity results in spontaneous evolution of thought on the issue". This is where diplomacy comes into play, and the US and Britain carry a lot of weight in that effort precisely because we provide so much aid. This is where the US can be the game-changer here, either through direct negotiations, or via a third party on the continent.

I can understand Dan's stance. It was my own for a brief moment, until my anger subsided and I thought about it some more. When I see those two men on that truck being carted off to prison, and when I read one man's statement that he'd rather die than live his life without the man he loves, it became very much a "there but for the grace of God go I" moment for me. I'm sure it was a similar feeling for a lot of gay men who are lucky enough to live in a more enlightened society. It felt personal... I imagined my husband and myself in that truck, and it freaked my shit out.

So I understand Dan's comment. I just don't think it's where the discussion should end. However, his statement does illustrate the very real fury among GLBT folks regarding GLBT civil and human rights, not only in the US but across the world. Underestimating our justifiably pissed-off sentiments would be a grave mistake indeed.
41
How about an intermediary step Dan, Malawi will be present at the G20 conference in Toronto in June (courtesy of an invitation by the conference's host, Canadian (Conservative) Prime Minister Stephen Harper). How about you call for a boycott of the conference by your government's representatives unless Malawi gets "dis-invited". How about try to ostracize the government before trying to penalize the population?
42
As horrified as I am about this judicial persecution of my LGBT brothers and sisters, I'm not too sure that there's much more that the official US government can and should do.

However, cases like this are where I advocate a little terrorism. I think that little tinpot regimes like this should not be permitted to get away with shit like this. I'd gladly kick in a few bucks to fund a commando team to bust these two fellows out, and get them to someplace that'll extend them refugee status.
43
If Dan or all those others making this idiotic call with not a care of the backlash against actual LGBT Africans which would ensue actually had any interest in Steven and Tiwonge they would be supporting Peter Tatchell's call for moral and financial support for Steven and Tiwonge - it's here http://www.petertatchell.net/internation…
44
http://www.petertatchell.net/internation…

seems to chop URLs - go to Peter's site and follow the links
45
Let's just reflect for a moment on the fact that Dan has neither the education nor the qualifications to be working in international aid or international relations.

Some blog author made a hot-headed, knee-jerk recommendation. Well, whoop-dee-doo.
46
Dan:

Just to let you know, they are not a gay couple. They are a straight couple, one is a mtf, the other is a guy. That doesn't sound like a gay couple to me.

So please quit calling them a gay couple.

Here is a Url for it:
http://questioningtransphobia.wordpress.…
47
Dan is entitled to his view. Every dollar of foreign aid to any country comes out of the pockets of American taxpayers. One of which is Dan Savage. So of course he should be appalled at his money being used to fund a country that treats a minority of which he is a member in such a way.

People criticize him for being a "one issue" voter, but at least he chooses an issue. Did you see the ages of these two young men? Can you imagine being held accountable for all of your misdeeds when you were 20 years old? If the same thing were being said about interracial marriage in this country there would be world wide outrage. But because it's two gay men, somehow this savagery is okay?
48
@47: Either you're missing the point raised by @46 or you're being deliberately obtuse.

If the former, then bone up on why Dan's being taken to task with every mention of Malawi in the past week for referring to this imprisoned couple as "a gay couple". Hell, go to the Advocate and read what they just reported. But if the latter, then you may go kindly sod off to Planet Git.
49
@21 and @23: yes, HIV transmission in Malawi has been largely reported to be through heterosexual sex. However, a recent study (the first ever) of men who have sex with men shows a higher HIV prevalence rate (20%) in the study population than in the general population. All of this is to say our previous understanding of the HIV epidemic in Malawi might be wrong.

Here's a link to the study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles…