Same sex law review stalls, govt tells UN

Government on Wednesday told the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the review of laws that criminalise consensual same sex was stalled due to lack of financial resources.

Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Banda was formally responding to the committee’s inquiry in the findings of the Law Commission with regard to the review of the Penal Code, in particular sections 137(A), 153, and 156, that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity.

Gay couple
Gay couple

Malawi submitted the initial report under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in April 2012 from which the committee compiled a list of issues that needed answers from the State party.

Banda told the committee that although the process to review the laws has stalled because of lack of funds, there was political will to deal with the matter.

Reads the report submitted by Banda: “Malawi has not set up a mechanism to specifically monitor cases of violence based on sexual orientation nor has it set up awareness-raising campaigns on the same. All cases of violence are handled in the same way regardless of the cause or alleged basis of the violence.”

Banda, however, said those involved in same sex acts are not pursued by law enforcers and that a special law commission has not been empanelled to look at the pieces of legislation that criminalise same sex.

On the independence and competence of the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), government told the UN that the commission’s operations are guided by principles relating to the status of National Human Rights institutions.

Banda told the committee that the commission is established under the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi and is regulated by an Act of Parliament, Human Rights Commission Act, No. 27 of 1998.

She said the funding challenges are there because Malawi is not a rich country. n


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    Banda told the committee that … there was political will to deal with the matter.

    Bullshit! Then why is GoM preventing the High Court from looking into how the “sodomy
    laws” sit with the Constitution. GoM promptly applied to the Supreme Court to have the lower Court stop its deliberations, and used a flimsy technicality to do so. Once it got its injunction (or whatever) GoM then failed to file its arguments as to why the High Court cannot consider the matter. This has gone on for months now, and it was only recently that the Supreme Court issued a deadline to have the arguments submitted.

    The only indication of political will on the part of GoM that I am aware of is from Joyce Banda’s speech when she opened Parliament two years ago. Since then, nada. What did Mutharika Two have to say about the sodomy laws during the recent election campaign? I do not recall any speech from him expressing any interest in repealing them.

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