Malawi President Drops Pledge to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Malawi President Joyce Banda says she has not received enough public support to warrant a campaign to strike down an antigay law.

BY Michelle Garcia

September 30 2012 12:21 PM ET

Malawi President Joyce Banda

 

Malawi President Joyce Banda is reneging a pledge to decriminalize homosexuality in her country, a promise she made in efforts to reform Malawi. 
 
Banda, who assumed the presidency after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in April, said there isn't enough public interest to change the law, the Associated Press reports. 
 
"Where Malawi is and most African countries are, is maybe where America or the U.K. where about 100 years ago," she said Wednesday after addressing the United Nations General Assembly. "The best thing the world can do is to allow each country to take its course, to allow each country to have that debate freely without the pressure of being pushed."
 
A month after becoming president, Banda told Malawi's parliament that the so-called "unnatural acts" laws were unjust and had strained diplomatic relationships. Many global leaders criticized Malawi's government for sentencing a same-sex couple to prison for 14 years for celebrating their engagement. The charges were eventually dropped.  
 
Following her address to parliament, Banda faced immense push-back from prominent religious figures. 
 
"Anyone who has listened to the debate in Malawi realizes that Malawians are not ready to deal with that right now. I as a leader have no right to influence how people feel," she added last week.

 

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