The High Court in Blantyre on Monday threw out an application by the Attorney General (AG) to stop proceedings in which the court is reviewing convictions of three men involved in homosexuality.
The case, which has been adjourned to March 17 for substantive hearing, attracted a dozen of lawyers representing different friends of the court.
Lawyer Tione Namanja, representing the AG, raised an objection to the proceedings, arguing the way the case was commenced was irregular.
Namanja argued the matter, being constitutional, required certification from the Chief Justice.
But the friends of court that included Malawi Law Society (MLS), the Centre for Development of People (Cedep), the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), the Law Faculty at Chancellor College, Manet+ and UNAids, argued against the AG’s application through MLS lead lawyer Dr Chikosa Silungwe.
Silungwe argued the AG’s position was “a bit misguided”.
Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu also challenged the AG earlier to cite a section which stipulated that it was a must for the Chief Justice to certify any matter. Upon reading some sections, it was agreed the certification was not mandatory.
The Judge went ahead to dismiss the AG’s objection, allowing the matter to proceed.
The court adjourned the matter to March 17 and all parties, including MCP president Lazarus Chakwera’s son, Pastor Nick Chakwera, who is siding with the AG to oppose repealing of laws that criminalise homosexuality, have been asked to prepare and submit their submissions.
Mwaungulu announced that there is going to be a panel of seven judges to hear the matter.
Dr Mwiza Nkhata of Chancellor College, one of the lawyers representing some friends of the court, asked if the court could allow filming of the proceedings, but Mwaungulu said he will have to consult fellow judges on the matter.
The three convicted in 2011 by magistrates’ courts in Blantyre are Amon Champyuni, Matthews Bello and Mussa Chiwisi who are serving sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years.
Gay activists want the court to declare the laws that criminalise homosexuality unconstitutional.
The gay issue has been an emotive matter as donors and the United Nations 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.