Confusion in Malawi as court orders gay arrests to continue


Confusion in Malawi as court orders gay arrests to continueMalawi media is reporting that a court has overturned the government’s moratorium on the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality.

According to Nyasa Times, the High Court in Mzuzu on Monday “ordered the Malawi police service and the director of public prosecutions to continue arresting and prosecuting gays and lesbians who commit homosexual offences in Malawi.”

The ruling followed an application against the suspension of the law brought to the court by a group of pastors. Judge Dingiswayo Madise warned that anyone who disobeyed his order would be in contempt of court.

The arrest and prosecution of gay people must continue, said the judge, pending a judicial review of the government’s decision to suspend the law, a process that would assess whether the moratorium was valid and lawful.

In January, the Malawi Human Rights Commission claimed that the government moratorium was not legal and that the parliament is the only body that can amend or repeal a law.

Disturbingly, the judge also ordered the reinstatement of charges against two men who were arrested in December when police raided a private home. One of the men was this past week involved in a bloody attack which saw him beaten by an unknown assailant or assailants.

The charges against the men were previously dropped following an announcement by Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu that the government had “imposed a moratorium” on the arrest of Malawians for having gay sex, which carries a penalty of 14 years in prison.

Tembenu also affirmed a commitment to review the colonial era ban on sex “against the order of nature” in “consultation with the people of Malawi,” indicating that the matter could be put to a public vote in a referendum.

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