In her first state of the nation address to parliament, (President Joyce) Banda said: “Some laws which were duly passed by the august house… will be repealed as a matter of urgency… these include the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts.”
The BBC’s Raphael Tenthani in the main city, Blantyre, says the president has the support of a majority of MPs and so should be able to get parliament to overturn the law. However, he says it will be an unpopular move with many church leaders, as well as the wider population in this conservative country.
Banda’s call was part of a much larger sweeping announcment that many unpopular and controversial laws implemented by her predecessor would be revisited.
Banda became President after her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, died of a heart attack. Mutharika pardoned a couple in 2010 after they were found guilty of participating in a same-sex engagement ceremony and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. Mutharika then imperiously commanded that everyone stop talking about those “satanic” gays. As Mutharika’s rule became increasingly autocratic, a rift developed between him and vice President Banda. Meanwhile Britain suspended aid to Malawi over Mutharika’s autocratic rule, which included his police breaking up opposition protests with live ammunition.
When Mutharika died last month, his supporters tried to implement a bloodless coup to prevent Banda from taking office. But when it became clear that the army would side with Banda and support the constitution, opposition melted and she was sworn in. She is now reversing many of Mutharika’s policies in order to get donor funding restored.