A high court in Malawi has reversed a government ruling which suspended a law criminalising homosexual acts. The order essentially gives the police and prosecuting authorities the power to resume arresting and prosecuting gays and lesbians accused of committing homosexual crimes.
Last year, the government of Malawi announced it had imposed a ban on anti-homosexual laws pending a decision on whether to repeal the legislation.
In a rare public announcement supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, the President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika last month said he “wants gay rights protected,” according to the his press secretary, Gerald Viola.
However, there have been several cases of gays and lesbians being harassed despite the existence of a ban on a law criminalising homosexual acts.
According to the Voice of America, the latest high court order came after three pastors filed a suit in the northern city of Mzuzu, arguing that the government selectively applied the penal code when it pardoned two gay suspects last year.
The three pastors argued that the government’s suspension of the anti-homosexuality law was illegal and only the country’s parliament has the mandate to change or suspend any law in the country, Voice of America reported.
Judge Dingiswayo Madise reportedly said the arrest of homosexuals will continue forthwith until there is a judicial review.
The announcement has already sparked public debate around homosexuality, which is a controversial issue in the country and across the continent. While the order has been embraced by the pastors who brought the case before the court, human rights campaigners have expressed concern over the ruling.
Source: Voice of America