[QODLink]
Africa
Malawian president to repeal gay laws
Joyce Banda says laws criminalising homosexuality may be scrapped in what is seen as attempt to appease Western donors.
Last Modified: 18 May 2012 20:31
Banda’s comments appeared to seek to appease Western donors who are uncomfortable with the "bad laws" [AFP]

Malawian president has said her country is considering repealing laws against homosexuality, regarded as a serious crime in many African countries.

Joyce Banda, who assumed the presidency of the southern African nation after the death in April of President Bingu wa Mutharika, made the announcement on Friday in her state of the nation address in Lilongwe, the capital.

"Indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed," said the former vice-president, referring to legislation that criminalises same-sex relationships.

But Banda, the second woman president in Africa after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said repealing a law required a parliamentary vote.

It was unclear how much political support she would have for sweeping changes in the conservative nation where people who dare to live openly as homosexuals are ostracised and persecuted.

Speech hailed

Banda’s comments appeared to seek to appease "traditional development partners who were uncomfortable with our bad laws".

Malawian development partners, or donors, include European Union countries, where homosexuality is legal.

Banda's speech, which was hailed by human rights activists, follows international condemnation for the conviction in 2010 of two Malawian men who were arrested after celebrating their engagement.

The men, who were sentenced to a 14-year jail term, were charged with unnatural acts and gross indecency.

Then President Mutharika pardoned the couple on "humanitarian grounds only" while insisting they had "committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws".

Reacting to the president's comments, Undule Mwakasungula, a human rights activist, said: "The issue of homosexuality has been a contentious issue. Definitely it will raise controversy in parliament."

South Africa is the only African country with laws protecting gay rights, including recognising same-sex marriages. 

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
The group's takeover of farms in Qaraqosh, 30km from Mosul, has caused fear among residents, and a jump in food prices.
Protests and online activism in recent months have brought a resurgence of ethnic Oromo nationalism in Ethiopia.
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
join our mailing list