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As one way of ensuring positive coverage of LGBTI stories, CEDEP under the COC Pride Programme in 2010 established a Media Forum taskforce which comprise of journalists from different media houses in Malawi.

The taskforce members meet every year to review the challenges and milestones for that year and share the experiences when covering an LGBTI event or interviewing someone. This year’s review meeting was at Game Haven Lodge in Thyolo District and the COC donor from Netherlands, Bram Langen and the Executive Director of CEDEP, Mr Gift Trapence, participated the meeting.

The meeting was facilitated by Brian Ligomeka from Centre for Solutions Journalism (CSJ) and Dr. Jones Mawerenga from Chancellor College. Mr Ligomeka’s presentation was based on the research conducted by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and Gender Dynamics. The research find out that; LGBTI stories are underrepresented in the media due to, personal preferences, religious & cultural norms, institutional slant and restrictive laws. He also pointed out that there is bias in media coverage because the stories fail to incorporate the voices of LGBTI citizens. He therefore, urged the journalists to avoid the use of outdated or dehumanizing language, they have to be proactive and find stories that portray diversity, they have to expand the network of LGBTI activist and journalist across the country and put a human face to the stories.

Dr. Mawerenga who is a lecturer of Systematic Theology at Chancellor College presented on a topic called “An Evaluation of the Interaction between Religion and the LGBTI Community in Malawi”. His presentation dwelled much on the need to of the journalists to use the inclusive approach when covering stories as how Jesus did in the bible where He brought everyone closer to him regardless of their sins. “We are all equal in the presence of God, hence there is no need to judge one another when writing articles”, He said.

The donor from COC Netherlands recommended the Media Forum in Malawi saying it’s unique on its own, therefore, the members have to continue writing constructive stories to change peoples’ mindset on LGBTI community and that COC will continue funding the activities of the forum. The Executive Director from CEDEP Mr. Trapence also acknowledge the work that the forum members are doing and promised that CEDEP will continue awarding the best Human Rights Journalists on LGBTI issues during the MISA Malawi Awards that are conducted every year. The Director also emphasized that change has come in because the media personal report the LGBTI stories with an objective point of view. He add on that, the forum is unique set not only in Malawi but in the African Region.

The Forum members through Dalitso Chimwala assured the donor from COC and the ED from CEDEP that they will keep on fighting for the rights of the LGBTI community through writing articles and producing different radio and TV programs with a constructive point of view. The members also acknowledge the support that they get from CEDEP whenever they contact the organization for help.