Being gay in Malawi is illegal and it carries a jail term of 14 years for anyone that identifies as anything other than heterosexual.
That didn’t dissuade brave members of the LGBTQI+ community from taking to the streets for a Pride march at the weekend in the capital of Lilongwe however. The attendees were mostly masked, not just because of the pandemic but through fear of being recognised.
Back in 2012 the then president Joyce Banda promised reform and suspended the sentencing of those arrested, albeit temporarily. People at the march spoke about how hard it is being gay in Malawi, with reports of being denied housing, blackmailed by police, bullied in school, rejected by their families and forced to hide their sexuality in public.
The Guardian newspaper was on the scene and spoke to a 29 year old man names Andreas who, despite everything, was positive. He said: “To be a gay in Malawi is tough and it takes a lot of guts to be open like I am. I have been through a lot, including insults and discrimination. I’m lucky that I have a loving family which accepted me the way I am.”