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Malawi Will Review Its Ban On Homosexuality

In 2010, Tiwonge Chimbalanga, right, and Steven Monjeza, left back, were sentenced to  14 years in prison for "unnatural acts" and "gross indecency" under Malawi's anti-gay legislation.
Alex Ntonya
/
AP
In 2010, Tiwonge Chimbalanga, right, and Steven Monjeza, left back, were sentenced to 14 years in prison for "unnatural acts" and "gross indecency" under Malawi's anti-gay legislation.

The government of Malawi announced, yesterday, that it would review its ban on homosexuality. The announcement comes just days after the United States said it would use its foreign aid to advance gay rights. President Obama also directed his agencies to "to find ways to deter countries from criminalizing homosexuality."

The AFP reportsMalawi's government said the review was prompted by "public opinion:"

"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," said Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume.

"The laws would be sent to the Law Commission, set up in 1995 by the government after the country's first democratic vote, he added in a statement.

"The penal code of Malawi classifies homosexuality under 'indecent practices and unnatural acts'."

The BBC reportsthat last year a gay couple, who held an engagement ceremony, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for sodomy. The BBC adds:

"During their trial, President Bingu wa Mutharika called homosexuality 'evil and very bad before the eyes of God'. He later pardoned them following international condemnation of the sentence."

The Guardian addsthat Britain had already cut some of its aid to Malawi "over concerns of bad governance and misspending." A threat to cut aid from the United States, however, holds more sway because the U.S. contributes about $200 million per year. The U.K. contributes about $30 million.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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