Malawi: New president ‘to decriminalise homosexuality’

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The Malawian president has said she will repeal the laws which make it illegal to be gay in the central African state, it has been reported.

The BBC and Associates Press report a speech to parliament in which president Joyce Banda said: “The Indecency and Unnatural Acts laws shall be repealed”.

Ms Banda took office last month after president Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack.

He had pardoned two men sentenced to Mutharika pardoned two citizens on “humanitarian grounds only” after they were charged on homosexuality offences.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga had attempted a marriage ceremony, with confusion over whether the latter identified as a trans woman in some reports.

Pardoning the couple from charges of gross indecency and unnatural acts, Mr Mutharika had said: “These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws.

“However, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions.”

Last year, the UK government confirmed aid would be redirected away from the central governments of countries who do not protect citizens’ human rights, including the rights of gay people.

In December 2011, the Malawian Justice Minister included the country’s anti-gay laws in a list of legislation he wants reviewed, saying the rules may not reflect “public opinion”.

Ephraim Chiume said: “In view of the sentiments from the general public and in response to public opinion regarding certain laws, the government wishes to announce to the Malawi nation that it is submitting the relevant laws and provisions of laws to the Law Commission for review.”