The High Court in Blantyre is today (Monday) expected to start sitting to review convictions of three men serving long prison terms for their involvement in homosexuality.
The men convicted in 2011 by magistrates’ courts in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre are Amon Champyuni, Mathews Bello and Mussa Chiwisi.
Gay activists, according to documents filed, want the court to declare the laws that criminalise homosexuality unconstitutional.
The Malawi Law Society (MLS), a grouping of lawyers recognised by the law with mandate to represent and protect the interests of Malawians among other mandates, is in support of the gay activists, according to the documents filed.
The MLS argues as long as same-sex relationships are consensual and done in private, no one has business to get bothered, hence agreeing with the gay activists that the laws that criminalise homosexuality be declared unconstitutional.
But government, which is fully aware that the court’s decision on the matter would be an ultimate make or break for Malawi in as far as gay issues are concerned, wants the whole proceedings stopped.
The State, through the Attorney General’s (AG) chamber, according to the documents filed, argues that the applicants have flouted procedures.
Government lawyers, who walk to the court today to fight for suspension of the whole matter, argue that in normal circumstances, the applicants (the convicted men) should have applied to the Chief Justice to seek consent to have the matter heard by a constitutional court, which they never did.
As far as the State lawyers are concerned, the convictions of the three men, were nothing but criminal; hence they fault the procedure taken.
Centre for Development of People (Cedep) is in the forefront fighting to have some sections in the Penal Code that criminalise homosexuality declared unconstitutional.
Chief State Advocate Dr Zolomphi Nkowani leads the State team to oppose the proceedings.
According to sources within the Law Society, the decision for MLS to side with the gay activists has ruffled a few feathers as some members are arguing the membership was not consulted and it was a decision only made by the MLS executive.
The gay issue has been an emotive matter as donors and the United Nation have been calling on Malawi to accept gays and repeal laws that criminalise same-sex relationships.
Former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika, under pressure from the international community, was forced to pardon Steve Monjeza and Tionge Chimbalanga, convicted to a maximum 14-year jail term each.