Malawi Government Suspends Anti-Gay Laws
Malawi’s government announced this week that it is suspending laws that ban homosexuality in the African country, while officials vote on whether to repeal them, CNN reports.
Gay men and woman in Malawi, a landlocked country in southeast Africa that is bordered by Zambia and Mozambique, are prohibited from getting married or entering into any kind of relationship, thanks to the country’s anti-gay laws. Consensual homosexual acts are punishable by law and individuals can be sentenced up to 14 years in prison or receive corporal punishment.
Malawi’s justice minister said the laws are currently suspended and police are not allowed to arrest or prosecute members of the LGBT community until the country’s parliament votes whether to repeal the controversial laws, according to a statement by Amnesty International, an international human rights organization.
"Amnesty International welcomes Minister (Ralph) Kasambara’s statement and hopes it serves as the first step toward ending discrimination and persecution based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in Malawi," Noel Kututwa, the rights group’s director for southern Africa, said.
Two years ago, Malawi was under fire when two men were arrested for getting married, the Associated Press reports. The men, however, were later pardoned after activists from around the world criticized the country’s actions. The country’s former president, Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office in April, said he pardoned them on "humanitarian grounds only" and insisted they "committed a crime against our culture, against our religion and against our laws."
But earlier this year, Malawi’s president, Joyce Banda, vowed she would repeal the laws that ban homosexual acts, AP noted.
Additionally, Madonna has attempted to do charity work in Malawi by building 10 new schools in the country. But officials attacked the pop queen, who adopted two children from the country, after she stopped plans to build a girls academy a year ago, the Guardian reported.