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I Am Because We (C)are...



Live from MalawiTwo years ago, Madonna, who is often seen as a role model among gay, lesbian, bi and transgender communities, produced I Am Because We Are, a touching documentary about the poverty and difficult conditions of people living in Malawi and children growing up in a country deeply affected by HIV/AIDS.

The primary mode of HIV transmission is unprotected heterosexual sex and mother-to-child HIV transmission is the second major mode of the desease transmission. Madonna fans of all sexualities around the world, were deeply touched by the portrait and images of this desperate country but apparently court judges in Malawi are not that concerned by this plague spreading through "natural acts" but are more worried of "protecting" the people of Malawi from people like Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, a couple of men sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour for simply loving one another in what they define as an "unnatural" way.

"I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example," said Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa accoding to the BBC.

Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International, called the sentence "an outrage", reports the AP news agency. She described the pair as "prisoners of conscience" and said Amnesty would continue to campaign for them to be freed.

Madonna fans on various online boards are having heated discussions on the subject right now especially over whether Madonna should or should not issue a public statement on the matter in support of the communities that helped her becoming what she is today with their continuous support over the years. After all she inspired sentiments of respect and tollerance with songs such as "In This Life" in which she says that "shouldn't matter who you choose to love"

The BBC also reports that the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have been urging authorities to relax the country's stance on homosexuals. The government has come under pressure from Western donors over the issue. For a poor country, 40% of whose development budget depends on donors, such concerns must be taken seriously.

Thanks to Bart & Rick and all the fans who contacted us about this story. Bart runs a project to help out gay and lesbian asylum seekers and refugees. You can contact him at bart.hermans@fedasil.be


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