Joyce Banda, the new president of Malawi, said today she hopes to repeal the country’s law against homosexual activities.
If that happens, the number of countries where homosexual acts are a criminal offense would be reduced to 75.
Under current law, homosexual activity among men or women is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Parliamentary action would be needed to repeal that law.
“Indecency and unnatural acts laws shall be repealed,” she said. The Associated Press noted that “it is unclear how much political support Banda would have for sweeping changes in this impoverished and conservative nation in southern Africa.”
Malawi was widely criticized in 2010 when two men who celebrated their engagement were sentenced to 14 years in prison. The men were pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika, although he insisted that they had “committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws.”
Mutharika died in April and Banda, as vice president, became president for the rest of his term, which extends to 2014.