UN wants Malawi position on gays, death penalty

The United Nations Human Rights Commitee wants Malawi government’s stand on calls to decriminalize gay and lesbian relationships.

“Please provide information on the findings of the Law Commission with regard to its review of the Penal Code, in particular Sections 137(A), 153, and 156, in the context of the Human Rights Committee’s previous recommendation to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity,” reads the UN Committee issue’s paper.

Malawi Government delegation led by the Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Banda has a session with the committee this week to provide responses to human rights issues raised by the UN in respect to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) country report presented in April 2012.

CEDEP boss Gift Trapence: People have a choice to sexual orientation
CEDEP boss Gift Trapence: People have a choice to sexual orientation

Civil society organisations (CSOs) met the UN rights committee on Monday to provide an alternative position on the human rights situation in Malawi, mainly focusing on the discrimination of sexual minorities.

Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence pleaded with the committee to impress on the Malawi Government to provide adequate protection against minorities.

Trapence urged the UN rights committee to make “a strong recommendation “to the Malawian Government to, “once and for all, treat everyone in its territory with respect and as full bearers of rights, without discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Taxpayer-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) chairperson Sophie Kalinde told the committee Malawi Government should be commended for opening up the issue of same sex.

MHRC told the committee that it has never received any complaint regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation and that most of the people arrested were on charges of child molestation.

The UN is also asking Malawi government to explain if it has intentions to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCR by amending the Penal Code in order to formally abolish the death penalty.

“Please explain whether the death penalty continues to be imposed by some courts and tribunals and, if so, specify the number of persons condemned to death and commutations of the last five years,” asks the UN.

Cedep and CHRR represented Communication Workers Union of Malawi, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Youth Empowerment and Civic Education, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre, Paralegal Advisory Services Institute, Youth Consultative Forum, Church and Society of CCAP Nkhoma Synod.

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