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Malawi backs down on legalizing gay acts

Malawi’s president will not move to decriminalize homosexuality, despite pledging to do so on taking office, citing a lack of support for such moves by the general public
President Joyce Banda

Malawian President Joyce Banda has said that her country is not ready to decriminalize homosexuality despite pledging to do so on taking office.

Banda told the Associated Press that the people of Malawi were not yet ready to take such a step.

‘Anyone who has listened to the debate in Malawi realizes that Malawians are not ready to deal with that right now,’ Banda told the Associated Press’ David Stringer in New York on Wednesday after addressing the United Nations general assembly.

‘I as a leader have no right to influence how people feel.’

‘Where Malawi is and most African countries are, is maybe where America or the UK were about 100 years ago … The best thing the world can do is to allow each country to take its course, to allow each country to have that debate freely without the pressure of being pushed.’

Banda warned that pushing too hard for change could create a backlash.

‘We have seen countries where homosexuals have been killed,’ Banda said.

‘Why? Because, in my view, the country … wasn't ready.’

Since pledging to decriminalize homosexuality in her first State of the Nation speech in May Banda has been attacked by Opposition MPs on the issue who have accused her of being out of step with the Malawian people.

Malawi currently punishes sex between men with up to 14 years imprisonment.

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