Malawi drop charges against gay men: Anti-homosexual laws suspended, says Justice Minister

Malawi government has dropped all criminal charges against two men who were facing up to 14 years in prison, on allegations that they engaged in homosexuality acts in a suburb of Area 25 in the capital Lilongwe.

Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu and Solister General Janet Chikaya Banda: Malawi Police have been ordered not to arrest or prosecute homosexuals

Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu and Solister General Janet Chikaya Banda: Malawi Police have been ordered not to arrest or prosecute homosexuals

Malawian police arrested 19-year-old Cuthbert Kulemeka and Kelvin Gonani (37) and were charged with sodomy.

Their arrest attracted international condemnation with Human Rights Watch and the US government saying the arrest was against human rights commitments Malawi pledged to adhere to.

On Saturday Malawi’s Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu said all charges have been dropped for the two men and said Malawi is committed to adhere to “universary accepted human rights standards.”

Tembenu said Malawi government acknowledged the views expressed by international human rights bodies that the government should instruct the police that no one should be arrested on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Justice Minister said Malawi government has committed itself to review colonial-era “sodomy” laws and possibly rid itself of this disgraceful colonial relic.

However, Tembenu said the process will be done “in consultation with the people of Malawi as prescribed by the Constitution.”

Tembenu said in line with the commitment to review the anti-homosexual laws, Malawi government has suspended laws against same-sex relationships pending a decision on whether to repeal the legislation.

He said government has “imposed a moratorium” not to arrest or prosecute homosexuals.

But   repealing the legislation would be an unpopular move with many church leaders, as well as the wider population.

Tembenu called on civil society organisations to carry out “intensive sensitisation campaigns on gay rights”; saying homosexuality is “alien to Malawian culture.”

He said investigations on the two men indicated that their case was not about gay sex but “the evidence indicated a case of indecent assault” arguing that prompted the Police to require medication examination to establish the truth.

“The ministry has not detected any prejudice or malice on the part f the conduct of the police,” said Tembenu.

Justice Minister appealed to international community to fully appreciate that the review of gay laws is “a highly sensitive matter” that requires understanding and accommodation of diverse views before it is fully resolved.

Gift Trapence, from the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), welcomed the announcement to suspend anti- gay laws as “an encouraging step” forward.

He said: “It is difficult to offer HIV and AIDS services to homosexuals when there are sodomy laws on the other hand.

“The same government is crimalising same-sex relationships and the same government wants to help them. This does not make sense.”

Malawi is a signatory to a number of instruments that protect people in same-sex marriages, including International Convection on Civil and Political Rights that guarantees the right to privacy and non-discrimination of all people.

Chapter IV of the Malawian constitution guarantees every person’s right to liberty, dignity, and security of person. Article 20 prohibits discrimination on all grounds, and article 21 guarantees the right to privacy. Section 153 of the Malawian criminal code, which criminalizes consensual sexual conduct between adults, and section 156, which criminalizes “indecency” in both public and private, directly violates the right to privacy.

These criminal law sections are also contrary to international human rights standards. Specifically, article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights prohibits discrimination on all grounds; articles 3 and 19 secure for all the right to equality; and articles 5 and 6 guarantee the right to dignity and liberty.

In 2010, two Malawian men were arrested and charged with public indecency after saying they were getting married.

The prosecution drew international condemnation and led to some donors withdrawing budget support – a major blow to one of the world’s poorest countries.

The then-president Bingu wa Mutharika – who died of a heart attack in 2012 – pardoned both men on “humanitarian grounds” but said they had “committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws”.

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allan banton
Guest

My nation don’t allow that pliz

Khamani!!
Guest

Chokani apa. Ma homo inu, asa! Tengani iyi kukamwa, Ina kumatako ! Asa!

Amini Mussa
Guest

even a president angokwatilira manyazi, he is completely gay, he has stayed dozens of years single, kungokwatilira udindo. how do you expect the country to run like?

chris
Guest

and so claims to be a god fearing nation. what a country and it’s leadership that doesn’t walk it’s talk. shame on our so called leadership, and so called religious organisations, pac , mam, ccjp who runs to voice out on typically political views forgoing their spiritual obligation towards the us bulldozed gvt

kate
Guest

My question to authorities is: WHy do you arrest these gay people when you know that you have no power to punish them? dziko la Malawi lili mmanja mwa a garu indeed!

dpp_supporter
Guest

the president made the best decision for his people.

mulweli kalikokha
Guest

So now Malawi will allow men to sleep together!!!! sick sick sick and disgusting

Moses
Guest

You are very stupid,foolish people,why don’t you allow companies to establish porn companies so that people can get job and develop country’s economy.Anthu osapempher agaru.mukuwopa munthu mzanu obadwa,wodwala wakufa m’malo mowopa Mulungu.zitsiru nonse muli mu Cabinet ya Peter.Sick society

Moses
Guest

You are very stupid,foolish people,why don’t you allow companies to establish porn companies so that people can get job and develop country’s economy.Anthu osapempher agaru.mukuwopa munthu mzanu obadwa,wodwala wakufa m’malo mowopa Mulungu.zitsiru nonse muli mu Cabinet ya Peter

The Most Concerned
Guest

Tiye nazoni….. Wina atenga mimba Mulungu akakwiya muona.

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