President Peter Mutharika has reiterated the position of his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on homosexuality, saying only Malawians can decide through a referendum whether the country should legalise same sex marriages.
In its manifesto, DPP says it will not impose or decide for Malawians on issues that border on their culture, morals and human rights and “contentious issues will be put to referendums”.
Responding to a question on same-sex marriages and abortion during a Talk to the President programme on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC TV) on Tuesday, Mutharika said Malawians hold the cards.
Said the President: “On the issue of abortion, of course, it will require amending the law if we want to legalise that, but I don’t see that happening in this country.
“On the issue of gay marriages, again I have said in our DPP manifesto that we will leave that to the people…”
However, Mutharika’s stand received disapproval from some human rights defenders who have quashed his assertions of calling a referendum, saying human rights matters must not be subjected to a referendum.
Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence yesterday said it was surprising for the President to be making such statements when he undertook to defend human rights and dignity for all.
During a workshop on human rights for magistrates held in Mangochi last month, associate professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Mwiza Nkhata, trashed calls for a national referendum on same-sex unions, describing the same as “absurd”.
Malawi is one of the countries where same-sex marriages and abortion are illegal amid pressure from human rights defenders.