Gays should not be criminalised in Malawi – Activists

Human rights activist in Malawi have made a fresh bid to decriminalise gay acts in the country.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Malawi and attracts a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

But Cedep Executive director Gift Trapence addressing a news conference with rights campaigners to mark Malawi’s 50 years of independence, made a fresh plea to repeal “draconian laws” against gay acts, saying sexual activity in private between consensual adults is protected by human rights law.

He noted that there is “growing homophobia” against Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Community.

Trapence and other activists addressing a news conference
Trapence and other activists addressing a news conference

“Despite the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender individuals being placed on the international agenda, Malawi’s legal framework remains hostile to the LGBT community, a scenario that is exposing the group to various forms of discrimination,” stressed Trapence.

On a proposed referendum, where the majority of Malawians should choose whether to maintain the status quo or not, Trapence said it was not th right way to go.

“ Appealing to the democratic principle of ‘majority rule’ to justify a referendum concerning a universally recognised human rights issue of the minority LGBT displays not only sheer ignorance of the very core and spirit of democracy, but also hides the issue behind smoke and mirrors,” he said.

Nevertheless, the rights campaigners said they find “solace” in the commitments made by the governing Democratic Progressive Party  (DPP) through Nicolaus Dausi during the election debates organized by Zodiak at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe that DPP would follow the constitution of Malawi on the matter.

“Now that the DPP is in power, we expect that it will take the lead in repealing the existing penal code, including those provisions which criminalise same sex marriages. As such this penal code provision is in conflict with section 20 of the constitution of Malawi, which is the Supreme law of the land.

“Besides,  the  recent  commitments  of  the  new  President  Author  Peter  Mutharika towards protection and promotion of human rights is a positive move and also an opportunity for his government to walk its talk by, amongst other things, taking a leading role in repealing the existing penal code which infringes on the human rights of the LGBTI community. “

The rights defenders said they will not relent in reminding the current government to honour its commitments towards promotion and protection of human rights for all.

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