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Malawi will lift ban on gay sex, promises president

New president Joyce Banda uses first state of the nation address to announce repeal of gay sex ban in Malawi, southern Africa
Malawi's President Joyce Banda will repeal gay sex ban.

Malawi's new president, Joyce Banda, has said she will repeal her country’s law which bans homosexual acts.

The announcement in her first state of the nation address today (18 May) was trailed last December when Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume promised a review of the law in response to public opinion.

Malawi attracted international pressure when a gay couple was sentenced to 14 years jail in 2010 for ‘unnatural acts and gross indecency’ before being pardoned.

The rejection of laws against gay sex is just one of the ways Banda is breaking from the administration of her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office. She has only been in power since 7 April.

Echoing Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, Banda also used her address today to promise freedom for Malawi’s citizens, equal opportunities, better education, healthcare, clean water, access to computers and more industry.

She has pledged to remove censorship so opposition leaders can appear in the media.

In the 2010 case, the two men were convicted after they held an engagement ceremony in the city of Blantyre.

Former president Mutharika, who died on 5 April, spoke out during the trial saying homosexuality was ‘evil and very bad before the eyes of God’. Later he allowed them a pardoned for ‘humanitarian’ reasons only but still insisted they had ‘committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws’.

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