Saturday, November 10, 2012

Little Thoughts Over Reports of Malawi's Suspension of Anti-gay Laws

Link to Kasambara's (voice) message: There have, as expected, been some questions regarding the moratorium imposed on Malawi's anti-gay laws. Zachimalawi thanks you for your questions. Here are the fast facts: (1) President Joyce Banda has not hidden her wish to let Malawians decide on the issue of homosexually, though the Constitution of Malawi does not explicitly mention the term homosexuality. That is where the ambiguity starts. If anything, it is the term 'unnatural' sex that exists. It is for this reason that some legal experts have argued that homosexuality is not prohibited in Malawi and that there can, therefore,not be such a thing is decriminalising homosexuality because the law is silent on that. But other legal heads say homosexuality falls under the armpit of the unnatural' sex laws. Sections 153 and 156 of Malawi's penal code criminalise sexual conduct between men and anyone convicted faces up to 14 years' imprisonment with hard labour, with or without corporal punishment. Section 137A of the penal code criminalises "indecent practices between females", with anyone found guilty liable to five years in prison.People are thus waiting to see what Parliament will do to 'settle' the matter.As of now, the issue remains a matter because it matters! (2) It is also true that the step taken by the Joyce Banda administration has been 'hugged' by the Amnesty International as "a historic step forward".""Amnesty International welcomes Minister Kasambara's statement and hopes it serves as the first step towards ending discrimination and persecution based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in Malawi.We urge the government not to lose momentum on this basic human rights issue and to ensure the full repeal of these discriminatory and hate-filled laws." Ever since Constituional Affairs Minister and Attorney General, Ralph Kasambara, disclosed that @There is a moratorium on all such laws, meaning that police will not arrest or prosecute anyone based on these laws", many people want to know whether it is true that once "the laws will be found to be unconstitutional", it will really be "... an embarrassment to the government, but if they are found to be valid, police will be able to act. It is better to let one criminal get away with it rather than throw a lot of innocent people in jail." In the words of the devout Catholic, Kasambara. (3) When all is said and done, it must be remembered that suspending something and repealing it are two different things. They are not even like twins born of one weather. Which means that Malawi's sodomy laws are still intact. The other thing is that the moratorium does not stand on the strong feet of any legal document and, therefore, backing. The declarartion is, therefore,water prone, banking, as it does, on political goodwill that could change as well change with a single stroke. The Department of Nutrition, HIV and AIDS in the Office of the President and Cabinet has a recommendation in its files to the effect that decriminalisation same-sex marriages could aid outreach efforts targeting groups that stand exposed to pangs of the pandemic due to systematic restrictions. Kasambara's Voice:

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