Government will conduct public inquiries into whether Malawians want the country’s anti-homosexuality laws removed, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has confirmed.
Solicitor general Janet Banda confirmed in an interview yesterday, saying government wants to find out people’s views on the highly-contentious issue.
However, Banda refused to call the inquiries a referendum, saying government just wants to get the views of Malawians, but not through a vote.
“We have instructed the commission [Malawi Human Rights Commission] to conduct public inquiries on the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] issue. We want to find out the views of the people on the issue and whether we need to change the law as it stands today. We have been receiving a lot of pressure on the issue and we want to hear the views of Malawians first,” said Banda.
However, details of how the inquiry will be conducted remain sketchy.
MHRC executive secretary Grace Malera has since confirmed receiving the request from the ministry, saying they will soon invite stakeholders to discuss the format of the inquiries.
Malawi has for some time resisted calls to repeal the country’s anti-homosexuality laws which earned international limelight in 2009 when two male adults—Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza—were imprisoned for 14 years after staging a traditional engagement.
Several presidential candidates in the 2014 Tripartite Elections, including President Peter Mutharika, pledged to call for a referendum on the country’s controversial laws. n