The Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi have publicly called on the Malawian Government to resume criminalizing members of the LGBTI community and end its moratorium on prosecuting those accused of indulging in gay sex.
The government, under President Joyce Banda, announced that authorities would no longer enforce Malawi’s laws criminalizing same-sex activities so that the country could have a conversation about whether to legalize homosexuality in 2012.
In the meantime Malawi’s High Court has been reviewing the constitutionality of the country’s laws criminalizing LGBTI people for several years but has not yet come to a decision.
However the Catholic Church in Malawi has now had enough and wants the law enforced again, saying the government only suspended the law because of foreign pressure.
‘We agree with those who have faulted the Government for putting a moratorium on laws governing homosexual acts,’ the bishops wrote in a joint pastoral letter, ‘This means that those guilty of homosexual acts or unions cannot be prosecuted.’
‘The Government has bowed down to pressure from donor community [sic], international bodies and local human rights campaigners. As pastors, we find this path very unfortunate. It is an act of betrayal on the part of those in power to sell our country to foreign practices and tendencies contrary to the will of God because of money.’
The bishops’ letter states that being a homosexual is ‘disordered’ but not sinful in itself and says that they ‘condemn in strongest terms [both] those inciting violence against homosexuals and those guilty of homosexual acts or unions.’
The bishops say that homosexual acts are ‘objectively evil and totally unacceptable,’ and so they must demand that the law be enforced again.
Homosexuality was first outlawed by the British in 1891 and if the law was fully enforced again LGBTI people in Malawi could potentially be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
Catholics make up around a fifth of the population of Malawi, or around two million people.