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Human Rights and Same-sex Intimacies in Malawi

Msosa, Alan (2018) Human Rights and Same-sex Intimacies in Malawi. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

In recent years, Malawi has received global attention as a global hotspot for human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity since the arrest of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza for holding a wedding ceremony in 2009. The violations are a result of negative attitudes against ‘homosexuality’, and the application of anti-gay provisions of the Penal Code and the Marriages Divorce and Family Relations Act, which outlaw consensual adult same-sex relationships and non-conforming gender identities. Malawi’s failure to protect queer persons amounts to the violation of its domestic and international human rights obligations. Paradoxically, the Malawian Constitution and international human rights obligations (to which Malawi subscribes), guarantee equal and effective protection against discrimination, which I have argued that it includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This interdisciplinary study explores the life stories of 44 queer Malawians examining how the lack of human rights protection affects their daily lives. I have found that the majority of queer Malawians are unlikely to come out due to fear of stigma and discrimination. As a result, they are unable to claim the full status necessary to enable them to formally assert their identity, citizenship and relationship rights. Drawing from social construction theories, this study will show that local meanings regarding human rights and sexuality include a misinterpretation of SOGI-based human rights as ‘the right to conduct mathanyula’, which is locally (mis)understood to imply permission to engage in sexual activities between men and young boys. I have recommended a radical shift in the articulation of SOGI-based human rights so that it is understood as the equal entitlement to protections in accordance with Malawi’s domestic and international human rights obligations. If understood as the latter, Malawians are likely to endorse human rights protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Human Rights Centre
Depositing User: Alan Msosa
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2018 09:55
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2018 12:21
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21553

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