Malawi not ready to legalise homosexuality, says President Banda

President Mrs Joyce Banda has said Malawians are not ready to lift  the ban on homosexuality.

Banda, who came to power in April on the death of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika, told Parliament in May that: “Indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed.”

The announcement caused a stir among churches and conservative Malawians.

But on Friday, President Banda told an American news agency, Associated Press (AP), that  the debate on the same-sex liaisons  has clearly shown that Malawians are not ready to repeal laws which criminalize homosexuality.

President Banda: I have no right to influence how people feel,

“Anyone who has listened to the debate in Malawi realizes that Malawians are not ready to deal with that right now,” said President as quoted by AP.

“I as a leader have no right to influence how people feel,” she said from New York.

Repealing a law requires a parliamentary vote.

“Where Malawi is and most African countries are, is maybe where America or the U.K. where about 100 years ago,” Banda said. “The best thing the world can do is to allow each country to take its course, to allow each country to have that debate freely without the pressure of being pushed.”

She said that the risk of pressing too fast for reform could be to incite violence.

“We have seen countries where homosexuals have been killed. Why? Because, in my view, the country — the nation— wasn’t ready,” said the 62-year-old leader.

The conservative Malawians and the churches have been against any moves to repeal the nation’s indecency and unnatural acts laws.

Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), a grouping of protestant churches in the country, said the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force Malawi to accept homosexuality.

The churches said donors should refrain from using aid to reinforce negative lifestyle in poor countries like Malawi.

“The Council understands and believes that Malawi needs aid, and therefore asks that homosexuality should not be used as a benchmark to penalize and put to risk the lives of millions of innocent Malawians,”  the council said.

The spiritual leaders however said the homosexual acts are a violation of the revealed truth of the complementarities of males and females according to the Holy Bible.

“This is an alien and immoral culture that denigrates human dignity, contradictory to God’s teaching – and in itself, a human rights violation where poor people are denied an opportunity to realize their full potential,” the council said.

Malawi church leaders further said legalizing homosexuality is a contradiction with the teachings of the Lord and a threat  to  the  family  unit  which  was  institutionalized  by  God and  a  contradiction  to  Malawi’s  rich traditions and culture.

The opposition party, People’s Transformation [Petra] party president Kamuzu Chibambo  said decriminalizing homosexuality would be a “grave mistake” and urged lawmakers “to resist any intention directly or indirectly to legalize same sex marriages.”

Malawi’s penal code prohibits sex between men and the law was applied in the case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza who attempted to marry in public. The law was also amended to include criminalisation of liaisons between women.

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