Rights grouping wants Malawi to repeal anti-homosexuality laws

Malawi anti-homosexuality laws

…Says heterosexual couples also engage in anal sex and oral sex but are not arrested

Nyasa Rainbow Alliance (NRA) has called on Malawi Government to repeal all laws that criminalises same-sex relationships in Malawi and has demanded the release of Jana Gonani, a man who was sentenced to eight years in prison for sleeping with other men.

NRA released a statement on January 1 following the imprisonment of Gonani, a 27-year-old man commonly known as Yvonne. He was found guilty of having sexual intercourse against the order of the nature contrary to Section 153(c) of the Penal Code.

According to the alliance, they have noted that the court used medical examination which the Mangochi district hospital conducted on Gonani even though the examination was only meant to establish her mental wellness and her gender identity. The alliance argued that the element of penetration was not proved but the court went on to convict Gonani on the basis of a mere allegation.

The minority rights group also wondered why the men who claimed to have slept with Gonani, including one who slept with him twice on alleged mistaken identity, were not charged alongside Gonani.

“We find this conduct by our authorities who are charged with the cardinal responsibility of protecting the rights of all citizens of this country including Gonani and other LGBTIQ people strange and unacceptable in an open and democratic society,” reads part of the statement.

NRA has since demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Gonani from “his unlawful detention on account that his arrest and conviction were arbitrary and unconstitutional.”

NRA further noted that although Section 153(c) of the Penal Code prohibits carnal knowledge against order of nature, which includes anal sex and oral sex, it is only the LGBTIQ+ community which is targeted by buggery laws.

The rights group argued that heterosexual couples freely engage in anal and oral sex but are not arrested due to assumption that their sexual intercourse is done in the order of nature.

“We find the application of buggery laws problematic because their enforcement is largely based on speculation and assumption, hence such laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional,” reads part of the statement.

The NRA in the statement further condemned the continued use of anti-homosexuality laws in Malawi in Malawi saying such repressive laws only invigorate incidences of homophobic violence, discrimination and other abuses against the LBTIQ+ community.

“We demand repeal of all laws that criminalises homosexuality and other consensual activities among adults as such laws are at the heart of all forms of discrimination based on concepts of identity and the need to identify with a certain group.

“We also ask the Malawi judiciary particularly the High court and Supreme court of Appeal to provide a decisive direction in relation to the constitutionality of anti-homosexuality laws in Malawi.

“We also call upon the Malawi Human Rights Commission to fully comply with its constitutional mandate and engage in all human rights issues including those related to the LGBTIQ persons, and that Malawi should review its legislation to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited grounds of discrimination in section 20 of the Constitution,” reads part of the statement.