Malawi Waivers Yet Again: Reinforcing Antigay Laws
A court in the small east African nation of Malawi last week instructed police officers to resume arresting anyone “engaging in homosexual activities,” according to online publication Malawi24.
The order, issued by Judge Dingiswayo Madise in a court in Mzuzu, the nation's third-largest city, appears to overturn a moratorium on such arrests, issued by the government leaders in 2012. That moratorium suspended a long-standing law that criminalized all sexual activity between people of the same sex.
Monday’s decision comes in a case filed by three Mzuzu-based pastors — Christopher Kammasamba, Reverend Patrick Banda and Pastor Tusalifye Mbeye — who argued that homosexuality is still illegal, reports Malawi 24. In their initial case, the pastors claimed that Malawai’s director of public prosecutions and the nation's police service did not have the authority to suspend existing laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct.
That application read:
"A declaration that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has no authority to suspend the operation of any law or to stop subjecting to the due process of the law all persons in the country who are suspected of having committed homosexual offences or offences of having carnal knowledge against the order of nature, under section 153 of the Penal Code."
Sections 153 and 156 of Malawi’s Penal Code mandates the arrest of men suspected of partaking in “homosexual activity” and a prison sentence of up to 14 years, with or without corporal punishment, if convicted, the news site notes. A separate section criminalizes sex between women, with a prison term of up to five years.
Madise also issued a warning stating that anyone who fails to abide by the law would be prosecuted for contempt of court.