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Malawi Suspends Anti-Gay Laws

Jim Burroway

November 5th, 2012

 Malawi Today reports that the African nation has suspended enforcement of its anti-gay laws:

(Minister of Justice Ralph) Kasambara, who is also Attorney General, said government wants to encourage debate and decide on whether laws against same- sex relationships should continue to be criminalized

“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.

Malawi’s anti-gay law carries a penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment. Reuters has more:

“If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to government,” he (Kasambara) told Reuters.

“It is better to let one criminal get away with it rather than throw a lot of innocent people in jail.”

Earlier this year, President Joyce Banda called on Parliament to repeal the colonial-era anti-sodomy law, but was forced to back away when it became clear that the move had very little support. Banda’s call nevertheless was a marked improvement over her predecessor, the increasingly autocratic Bingu wa Mutharika,  who appeared to be flowing in the footsteps of Zimbagwe’s Robert Mugabe when Mutharika commanded that reporters stop talking about those “satanic” gays. When Mutharika died in April 2012 of a heart attack,  his supporters in the cabinet tried to implement a bloodless coup to prevent then-Vice President Banda, who also headed the opposition, from taking office. But when it became clear that the army would side with Banda and support the constitution, attempted melted and she was sworn in.

In 2010, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who identifies as a woman, were given the maximum sentence of fourteen years at hard labor last week on charges of “gross indecency” and “unnatural acts,” following a traditional engagement ceremony the couple held the previous December. After international outcry and United Nations pressure, Mutharika pardoned the couple.

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anteros
November 5th, 2012 | LINK

…more women leaders like President Joyce Banda – that’s what Africa needs.

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