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Malawi: President Promises to Lift Ban on Homosexuality

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi, Citizen Media, Human Rights, LGBTQ+, Politics

Just months after the Zambian netizens were up in arms against UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for asking the country to be tolerant of homosexuals [1], President Joyce Banda says that Malawi will lift the ban on homosexual acts in the country angering some Malawi netizens over the pronouncement.

In her first national address Joyce Banda told [2] Parliament that  her government will repeal laws that discriminates against people based on sexual orientation.
“The indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed,” she said.

A map showing penalties targeting gays and lesbians in Africa. Image source: http://ilga.org/

Malawian religious groups have made it clear that [2] same sex marriages cannot be allowed in God-fearing and cultural strong Malawian norms. However, human rights groups argue that minority rights, including those that encourage same sex marriages, should be promoted.

A court in Malawi sentenced Malawi gay couple [3] to jail for fourteen years 2010. This was after the gay couple, Steven Monjenza and Towonge Chimbalanga, hosted an engagement ceremony. They were immediately arrested and thrown in jail.

Netizens reacted to the news on Facebook. Khalil notes [4]:

She dnt have a choice

Isaac disagrees [5]:

She had a choice of keeping quiet.

Abdulmalik suggests that [6] the move results from donor pressure:

No wonder the late President quarreled with her. She is just a stooge of the West. We don't need such stooges in Africa

Joyce Banda speaking at the DFID conference in 2010. Photo shared on Flickr by DFID under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) .

Harutizwi asks [7], “Where is our African identity?”:

Western nations are pressuring African nations to legalise homosexuality in exchange 4 aid. Malawi's Banda is already playing 2 the western tune. Where is our African identity? If we allow homosexuality will we ever hv a future? Ndiyani achazvara 4 the next generation? I can't even say gone 2 the dogs coz dogs hv never heard o4 that. May the God o4 heavens save mankind.

But Phetie reminds [8] critics that Malawi's system of government and even Christianity did not come from Malawi:

Its no prblm 4 Malawi legalising homosexuality…after all almost evrythn in our system of government copies 4rm western countries…even christianity came 4rm them

Clemans congratulates [9] the president:

Wow Banda congrats

Lyson Sibande identifies [10] five fallacies against decriminalisation of homosexuality:

Fifth fallacy: The Bible is the ultimate judge over homosexuality

It is an absurd fallacy ever, to think that every human being believes in the Bible. In this regard, it is a total disregard of the secularism of the constitution should homosexuals’ rights be criminalized on Christianity grounds. There is no rationale behind judging homosexuals with the Bible, which they may not believe in. It is like forcing a Moslem or Hindu to swear over the Bible. Nonetheless, if homosexuality is a religious catastrophe, then denominations have the right to deal with it among their memberships within their jurisdiction.

My conclusion:
According to Christianity, homosexuality harbors grievous transgression of God’s law and is punishable by death; Leviticus 20:13, as a Christian myself, I believe this Biblical teaching is irrefutable within its domains. However, non Christian homosexuals can not be denied their rights based on Biblical dogmas. Malawi as a secular nation that upholds democracy; where discrepancy arise as such that particular religious beliefs conflict with democratic fundamentals, democracy must prevail; because democracy is for everyone while religion is for those that espouse the respective teaching. Therefore, such a gesture as condemnation of gaysim based on Christian morals would symbolize crucifixion of democracy on the cross of Christian creeds.

Seba Space, LGBT blogger from Uganda, believes [11] that Joyce Banda's heart is in the right place:

Bless her soul for taking a lead on homosexuality. Malawi‘s president has vowed that the gay law will be repealed.

Yes, Malawi’s Joyce Banda is swimming against the parliamentary tide but her heart is in the right place so we must applaud her stance. Africa needs a lot of conviction politicians like her.

On Twitter, the news quickly attracted attention.

@mugumya [12]: #Malawi's president #Banda wants to overturn ban on homosexuality in country. Why do I think she will lose the next election?

@femianthony [13]: In Malawi, Homosexuality is Punishable by 14 Years in Prison

@moronwatch [14]: @gnixon88 @Original_Cindy I'm not – just returned from Malawi where a book on the evil of homosexuality was on sale at the airport

@moronwatch [14]: @gnixon88 @Original_Cindy I'm not – just returned from Malawi where a book on the evil of homosexuality was on sale at the airport

However, the Africa producer for BBC News, @forbeesta, says that the President's Office in Malawi has denies the reports:

@forbeesta [15]: Malawi Pres Banda's office have confirmed to me that they object to reports that she will repeal homosexuality laws. BBC will update #Africa

Early this year, Uganda re-tabled [16]a controversial anti-gay bill introduced in 2009 that proposed the death penalty for homosexual acts. Former Liberian first lady Jewel Howard Taylor has introduced a bill [17] making homosexuality liable to a death sentence.

Malawi will be the first country in Africa to lift ban on homosexuality since 1994. It is outlawed in 38 African countries and it can be punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria.