Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara has said the country has temporary suspended the controversial same-sex laws until Malawians through Parliament make a decision on the criminalising same-sex relationships.
Malawi is currently struggling to accept homosexuals, gays and lesbian due to stringent criminal laws coupled by conservative cultural and traditional beliefs among many Malawians, a situation that led to President Joyce Banda to initiate debate on the matter before the laws are repealed.
Speaking during a debate Thursday night in Lilongwe, Kasambara said after President Banda made a decision that it should encourage Malawians to debate on the issue, all the laws that criminalise same-sex relationship are no longer in force until the matter is concluded.
“There is a moratorium on all such laws meaning that Police will not arrest or prosecute anyone based on these laws.
“These laws will not be enforced until the time that Parliament makes a decision,” he said.
A moratorium is a legal term used when government decide to temporarily suspend enforcement of any legislation that require review.
“The idea to issue a moratorium is that if we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later they are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to government. It is better to let one criminal get away with it rather than throw a lot of innocent people in jail,” said Kasambara.
The debate under the theme Protecting Sexual Minorities in the Context of Human Rights and the HIV and AIDS Epidemic, was organized by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for Development of People (CEDEP).
CEDEP in a statement said the debate was organised as a way of fostering national debate and reaching a national consensus on how Malawi should move forward in addressing the same-sex relationship issue.
Kasambara said the moratorium on these laws will give Malawians an opportunity to freely debate the issue without any interference from the executive.
“The President has opened up debate and it is now up to all stakeholders including the civil society to encourage robust debate. We agree that as a nation we have to be bold on the issue and this is what has happened. The President, however, does not want to interfere or be judgmental,” he added.
A recent report on the assessment of the country’s laws and policies commissioned by Malawi Government’s Department of Nutrition and HIV and AIDS in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) recommended decriminalization of same sex marriages as a way of ensuring effective fight against the spread of HIV.
The same-sex relationship issue has been a thorn in Malawi’s affairs especially during the late Bingu wa Mutharika regime when donors cited sexual minority rights as one of the reasons some of them had frozen their aid.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :