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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 16, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 50
Malawi will review anti-Gay laws
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Malawi will review anti-Gay laws

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The African country of Malawi announced on December 8 that it will review a number of its more controversial laws - including a ban on same-sex sexual relations.

Malawi's Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume said the review was in response to 'public opinion.' 'In view of the sentiments from the general public and in response to public opinion regarding certain laws, the government wishes to announce to the Malawi nation that it is submitting the relevant laws and provisions of laws to the Law Commission for review,' he told BBC News.

The announcement comes only two days after a major speech by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on LGBT rights, and a directive from President Obama ordering U.S. officials to defend LGBT people worldwide. Great Britain and other donors have already cut aid to Malawi in protest of a number of oppressive laws, and government corruption.

Malawi got unwelcome international attention in 2010 when it jailed Steven Monjeza and his Transgender partner Tiwonge Chimbalanga for sodomy. They were given the maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

During their trial, Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika called same-sex relations 'evil, and very bad before the eyes of God.'

He later pardoned the couple following international condemnation of the sentence. Monjeza and Chimbalanga split up after their release.

Monjeza was last reported married to another woman. Chimbalanga returned to her native village and dropped out of sight after reports that she wished to escape to South Africa, where LGBT rights are guaranteed by the constitution.

According to Africa Review, other laws to be reviewed include one which allows censorship of newspapers, and a law preventing people from suing the government and public officials.

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