Malawi urged to amend homophobic provisions in Marriage Law

The United State based Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is urging Malawi on government to “immediately” amend provisions of the new Marriage law that stigmatize and violate the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati : Its now law

Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati :  Why coming out now?

During President Peter Mutharika’s visit to Washington D.C. this week, the rights body also called on United States Government to ensure a consistent US foreign policy that guarantees swift and meaningful responses to human rights abuses of LGBTI people abroad.

“It is utterly unacceptable that landmark legislation to prevent child marriage and increase gender equality in Malawi simultaneously entrenches discrimination against LGBT people,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in a statement released on April 20.

“The homophobic provisions in an otherwise important law diminish both the credibility and significance of what should have been a positive step forward for Malawi.”

The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act (Marriage Act) became law last week following the assent of President Mutharika.

While the new law increases protections for married women and raises the legal age of marriage to 18 in Malawi – an important step to combat the country’s high rate of child marriage – it contains several discriminatory provisions that stigmatize LGBTI people and undermine significant public health and development programming throughout the country.

The law allows divorce to be based on “unnatural offenses” – a reference to Malawi’s archaic anti-sodomy law inherited from the British colonial penal code that violates international law.

According to Kennedy, it is homophobic for the law to prevent transgender people from being recognized by the state in their chosen genders and outlaws same-sex unions.

“Discrimination and stigmatization have no place in a free society,” said Santiago A. Canton, Executive Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights.

“Malawi should be applauded for taking a significant step toward ending child marriage, but the government must immediately amend the Marriage Act to bring it into full compliance with its international human rights obligations.”

The group notes that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has found that anti-sodomy laws violate the rights to privacy and nondiscrimination under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Malawi is also a State Party.

But Minister of Gender, Women and Child Welfare Patricia Kaliati has attacked organisations that are calling on government to amend the marriage law wondering why the NGOs are coming out now when there were consultations before passing the Bill.

“Where were those NGOs when we were making consultations before the Bill was tabled in Parliament? Why are they coming out now when this Bill was passed in Parliament some months ago? Do not waste my time. I have important things to attend to,” said Kaliati.

But Minister of Gender, Women and Child Welfare Patricia Kaliati has attacked organisations that are calling on government to amend the marriage law wondering why the NGOs are coming out now when there were consultations before passing the Bill.

“Where were those NGOs when we were making consultations before the Bill was tabled in Parliament? Why are they coming out now when this Bill was passed in Parliament some months ago? Do not waste my time. I have important things to attend to,” said Kaliati.

Human Rights Watch has also appealed to government to take steps to repeal provisions of the Marriage Act that discriminate against LGBTI people.

The global watchdog said Malawi has an obligation to meet international legal standards in its laws, and the laws on marriage and divorce “are no exception.”

Human Rights Watch pointed out that the wording of the new Marriage law violates Malawi’s human rights obligations to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,.

By defining sex as “the sex of a person at birth,” the Marriage Act denies equal rights to form a family to some transgender people. The same provision denies the right to marriage to some intersex people – those born with both male and female sex characteristics – whose sex is often assigned arbitrarily at birth.

Malawi government recently said it will not change its laws against homosexuality.

“There will be no change in laws on homosexuality. It is still a crime to anyone engaging in the practice,” Minister of Health Jean Kalilani said.

Campaigners say that Malawi’s anti-gay laws hamper the country’s HIV prevention efforts.

Gift Trapence, from the Center for the Development of People (CEDEP), said: “It is difficult to offer HIV and AIDS services to homosexuals when there are sodomy laws on the other hand.”

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Malawi with custodial sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment.

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ELECTORATE MZIKA
Guest
Please mr Kerry Kennedy and your satanic rights organisation get it right that (1). Not all American human rights are automatically acceptable everywhere worldwide (2). Human rights are God-given and not American-given.Hence to hell with your madness branded rights in disguise (3). Stop this disgusting, manipulative and nausiating behaviour of dictating poor sovereign nations using your bloody financial muscle (4). We don’t want legalised sodomy, abortion,euthanasia, sex work, marijuana etc because they are not human rights but abuses of human rights (5). This is why you should not get surprised when one day the whole world rise up against this… Read more »
Loice Kawonga
Guest

No matter what and come what may, Malawi shall maintain Its cultural system. The fact that we are poor is not a guarantee that USA should take us for granted and impose the homophobic cultural system on us. Do away with your money and we shall remain poor provided we do what is right in the eyes of God and the Malawian citizens. You want to change our culture just because you have got money? No ways.

Hapuwani
Guest

Mr Robert F. Kennedy or whatever you call yourself, these laws were not made by the President, but the Malawian Parliament not the USA. Malawians can never come to USA to change your laws, why do u want to change ours??? Mind your tongue when u want to comment on other countries laws.After all Malawi is a sovereign country. do not ever say this again please.Mind your country not us we are different.

Toxic assets Phiri
Guest

You Europeans or what ever you are called, you want us to accept your nonsense at Gunpoint because of your blood fucken money. That will never happen. You can hang with your Money.

Malipeya
Guest

MALAWI SHALL MAINTAIN ITS PENAL LAWS AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY NO MATTER WHAT. EVEN IF BAN WILL HAVE TO STAY IN MALAWI FOR 366 DAYS, WE SHALL NEVER ACCEPT THAT. LEAVE US ALONE. IF YOU WANT TO BE DOING THAT WHEN YOU ARE AT LAKE OF STAR OR TOURIST ATTRACTION AREAS, TAKE NOTE THAT WE WILL BE READY TO ARREST YOU !!!!!!!!!!

The African
Guest

They force us to accept their culture yet they are failing to accept that our culture as Africans does not recognise such things. Not all states in the USA have legalised homosexuallity and yet America is also a free nation. Why should we disrespect our culture for you? Homosexuals have always been there but let them not publicly display their acts.. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and John. Main purpose of humans is to procreate not what,”You” are forcing our government to initate.

Hope you get the message. Thank you.

Tresfore Fungulani
Guest

No!!! Malawi shall keep its Laws, no one from outside can change our laws. Its by design from God that a man should marry a woman, not a man to another man/woman to another woman. This must not happen in Malawi, its illegal to practice this foreign marriage.

Shonayi
Guest

Ngati ziri ndalama bwanji zikhale.Monga a ku Saudi Arabia.Afghanistan,or Iguputo angawauze zimenezi.Ife atipezerera.Omse amene akulimbitsa zimenezi aMalawi osawalola kukwatira ndipo amene anakwatiwa nao awachokere.Mzeru kuposedwa ndi chinyama.Ngakhale galu or nkhuku siingapange zopusazi.

Dont dont
Guest

Mwe chonde we shouldnt allow such vaucisilu pliz pliz pliz

petro
Guest

Mumuuze Kennedy akwatile mwamuna nzake. Nkazakeyo andipase. Za chamba eti.

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