BREAKING: MALAWI TO OVERTURN GAY BAN

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President Joyce Banda

Malawi’s new president has promised to overturn the country’s ban on homosexual acts, the first African country to do so since 1994.

Both the BBC and the Associated Press reported on Friday that President Joyce Banda made the announcement during her first state of the nation address.

Banda, who has a background not only in politics but also women’s rights activism, came into power after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died from a heart attack last month.

Previously Malawi’s vice president, Banda was listed by Forbes magazine in 2011 as the third most powerful woman in Africa.

In December 2009, Malawi’s anti-gay laws were thrown into the international spotlight due to the arrest of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga on charges of homosexuality following their public engagement ceremony.

They were jailed for 14 years but were later grudgingly pardoned and released by President Mutharika thanks to personal intervention by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In February 2011, Mutharika shocked the world by singing a bill into law that specifically criminalised lesbianism.

Malawi’s anti-gay laws and poor human rights record led to international donors suspending aid to the country.

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