Judges to Review Malawi’s Homosexuality Laws

Steve Muonjeza and Aunt Tio

A panel of three Judges is today, June 28, 2024, set to consider carefully multiple sections of Malawi’s Penal Code concerning homosexuality.

These sections, three in number, are going to be reviewed under Constitutional Referral No. 2 of 2021, titled Jan Willem Akster & Jana Gonani vs. Attorney General.

Sections 153, 154, and 156 of Malawi’s Penal Code will be the focus of the review by the High Court bench of three Judges. Section 153 prohibits engaging in or permitting carnal knowledge against the order of nature, carrying a maximum sentence of fourteen years imprisonment.

Attempting this act is covered under Section 154, punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment. Section 156 criminalizes acts of gross indecency between male individuals, whether in public or private, with a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. 

What the panel of judges is expected to do is to evaluate whether these provisions comply with the constitutional standards of Malawi. 

This judicial review follows extensive public debate on homosexuality laws within the country. The previous three Malawian governments have been under intense pressure to undertake this review. 

Notably, several African nations, including Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, and South Africa, have implemented anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT rights.


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