Trump ally Franklin Graham is thrilled with Malawi’s new President, who has linked homosexuality and child abuse

Anti-LGBT preacher Franklin Graham of Samaritan's Purse

Franklin Graham has praised the new President of Malawi, who has previously conflated homosexuality and child abuse.

The notoriously anti-LGBT evangelist, who has close ties to the Trump administration and preached at the President’s inauguration in 2016, congratulated Lazarus Chakwera on his election as President of Malawi last week.

Franklin Graham congratulates new President Lazarus Chakwera.

Graham wrote: “Congratulations to Dr Lazarus Chakwera, who was just elected president of Malawi. Now-President Chakwera previously served as president of the Assemblies of God in Malawi and did a great job as chairman of our Billy Graham Evangelistic Association My Hope Malawi outreach in 2010.

“President Chakwera said, ‘My victory is a win for democracy and justice.’ Will you join me in praying that God will bless, direct, and protect this man as he leads his country?”

Chakwera has an anti-LGBT record,  claiming in 2014 that homosexuality is a form of “child exploitation”, according to the Human Dignity Trust.

Malawi's new President Lazarus Chakweri

Malawi’s new President Lazarus Chakweri (AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2015 he reportedly criticised a decision to drop charges against two gay men who were convicted to having “sex against the order of nature”.

Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: “President Chakwera should place respect for human rights and rule of law at the center of his new administration. The new president needs to put into action his own words that his victory at the polls is a victory for democracy and justice.

“President Chakwera should give particular attention to improving the lives of people in Malawi who have suffered inequality and discrimination. The prevailing goodwill from the people of Malawi and the global community should not be wasted.”

It’s still technically illegal to be gay in Malawi.

Malawi continues to maintain British Colonial-era laws that ban acts of “gross indecency” and sex “against the order of nature”, though in 2014 the country’s then-Justice Minister said the laws would no longer be enforced.

Human Rights Watch adds: “Malawi’s laws prohibiting consensual same-sex relations foster a climate of fear and fuel violence and discrimination. The punitive legal environment combined with social stigma allows police abuse to go unchecked and prevents many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people from reporting violence or getting medical care.

“The lack of clarity about the legal status of same-sex conduct leaves LGBT people vulnerable to arbitrary arrests, physical violence, and routine discrimination. The government should reaffirm the moratorium on arrests for consensual same-sex conduct issued by the Justice Minister in 2012 and move rapidly to decriminalize such conduct.”