Malawi’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Bruno Kalemba last week represented government at a sexual minority rights meeting in Olso, Norway, where United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon trashed the culture, tradition or religion arguments to criminalise same sex.
Kalemba confirmed in an interview his participation at the conference on April 15 and 16, which an advocate of sexual minority rights, Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence also attended.
Said Kalemba: “Malawi Government’s participation at this important conference demonstrates governments’ commitment towards taking steps to appreciate the issues surrounding LGBT [Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Transgender community] rights. This will enable government to make informed decisions on the legal and policy reforms to undertake.”
In a video message to the conference, Ban called upon the world to be outraged when people suffer discrimination, assault and even murder simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Civil society presentation at the conference noted that Malawi suspended the arrests of people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression until the Malawi Law Commission completes the review process.
Malawi’s presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane recently said the public view on homosexuality was that the laws needed to be debated more widely which prompted President Joyce Banda to throw back into public domain the issue of sexual minority rights for further consultations.
Said Nhlane: “The President has clearly stated that she would go by what Malawians will decide on the matter. The emerging view from the debate is that Malawians do not want government to repeal the law on homosexuality.”
Nhlane, however, said Parliament would have the last say on the matter.
However, a month after taking over from her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika who died in office in April last year, Banda told Parliament that she wants Malawi to overturn its ban on homosexual acts—the first African country to do so since 1994.
Section 153 of the Penal Code criminalises unnatural offences which include any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.