President Banda exonerates herself on homosexuality: Malawians to decide

Malawian President Joyce Banda on Monday refused to commit herself on the controversial question of homosexual rights.

The President said she had nothing to say on the matter as to whether the country should   decriminalise same-sex relations or not, saying she would leave Malawians to decide for themselves.

She was speaking on Zodiak Broadcasting Service (ZBS) where she took telephone calls from ordinary Malawians across the country hoping to clarify issues that are currently of concern to the country.

Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara is on record saying there is a moratorium on anti-gay laws, which see sexual conduct between men punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment, until parliament voted on a new law.

President Banda: Let Malawians decide

But the government back-tracked on its decision to suspend the arrests of gay people, after Malawi Council of Churches, a group of 24 Protestant churches,  fiercely criticised the move.

President Banda said “the power to repeal or amend laws rests with the legislative house.”

“I left the issue of same-sex marriages in the hands of Malawians and I feel great listening to people debating the issue,” said Banda.

“I don’t have powers to make laws, all the laws are passed in parliament and this depends on what people want. As a Christian I have my own feelings but as a leader I can’t impose my feelings on Malawians, let them decide,” added the President.

She also hinted that even the western donors particularly Britain know the country’s stand on homosexuality that “Malawians are not ready”.

President Banda also emphasized that she will “never say anything” on same-sex marriages until Malawians are ready and have a final say.

Malawi made world headlines in 2010 when two gay men were arrested for getting married. Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested and locked up for five months during their trial and after their conviction, until President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them on May 29 amid international outrage and protests.

 

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