Retired president lobby support for gays in war against Aids By REX CHIKOKO in Blantyre | Thursday, May 26  2011 at  19:21

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

Former presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia have called for a more inclusive approach to the fight against HIV/Aids.

The two said while on a tour of Malawi that such an approach would likely yield better results in Africa.

The remarks by the retired leaders could reignite homosexuality debate in the southern Africa country and may eventually reduce the stigma currently associated with the sex orientation.

They spoke at a press conference in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city to mark the end of their five-day tour in the country.

Only last year, Malawi was thrown into a national debate on gay issues, pitting the majority conservatives against progressives after a judge handed a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, with hard labour, to a gay couple convicted of what was described as gross indecency and unnatural acts.

Later, the couple was released after a President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them during a visit by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Mogae, who is also a champion for an HIV Free Generation, insisted that Malawi, and the rest of Africa could not succeed in fighting against the pandemic if some groups in the society were discriminated against.

Despite research indicating that about 13 per cent of the married men were secretly engaged in homosexuality, Malawi has been reluctant to embrace them.

In Malawi, HIV prevalence stands at around 12 per cent, with most efforts to assist those infected being directed towards heterosexuals.