Malawi leader: My plan to repeal anti-gay laws is stymied

Malawi President Joyce Banda
Malawi President Joyce Banda

The people of Malawi apparently aren’t ready to repeal the country’s laws against homosexual activity, says President Joyce Banda, who has vowed to seek to overturn them.

Current law in Malawi provides for imprisonment for up to five years for “indecent practices between males” and up to 14 years for “unnatural offenses” such as same-sex intercourse.

While in the United States for a speech to the United Nations, Banda told the Associated Press yesterday that discussions in Malawi about her request to parliament to  repeal those laws shows that the public does not support her plan.  She said:

Anyone who has listened to the debate in Malawi realizes that Malawians are not ready to deal with that right now. 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 U.K. where 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.

We have seen countries where homosexuals have been killed. Why? Because, in my view, the country — the nation— wasn’t ready.

The Malawi Council of Churches has opposed repeal.  It has also protested against threats from countries such as the United Kingdom to withhold foreign aid to countries with laws against homosexuality.

“The council understands and believes that Malawi needs aid, and therefore asks that homosexuality should not be used as a benchmark to penalize and put to risk the lives of millions of innocent Malawians,”  the council said in a statement reported in the Nyasa Times.

Kamuzu Chibambo (Photo courtesy of
Kamuzu Chibambo (Photo courtesy of

Kamuzu Chibambo, head of the Malawian opposition party, said decriminalizing homosexuality would be a “grave mistake” and urged parliament “to resist any intention directly or indirectly to legalize same-sex marriages.”

The country was the focus of intense international criticism in 2010 the 14-year prison sentences given to two men who were arrested after celebrating their engagement.  Then-President Bingu wa Mutharika later pardoned them, but said they had “committed a crime against our culture.” Banda became president on Mutharika’s death in April.

News of Banda’s interview attracted online comments both pro and con in the Nyasa Times.

“Bravo, Madam Joyce Banda, for telling the white folks that we are not legalising same-sex marriage. A marriage is a legal union between a man and a woman. Gays and lesbians are mentally challenged beings who are demon possessed,” said one.

Another commenter said, “I am very disappointed in the President. She has made a complete U-turn from what she announced at the state opening of the National Assembly. … Decriminalisation of homosexuality is being equated to the same as accepting same-sex marriage. The two are not the same, but it is a good tactic for whipping up support against decriminalisation.”

Read the full AP story here: “Malawi’s Banda says country unlikely to overturn laws against homosexuality.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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  1. Whats with the comment about ‘white folks’? There are millions of black people living in europe and america, many sharing the general consensus that homosexuality should not be criminalisedand and many thousands openly gay..some who have escaped from repressive african regimes. It is true it was almost exclusively ‘white folks’ – ie missionaries who encourahed criminisation of homosexuality in Africa – a colonial interference in traditional african life and culture.

  2. I do not judge any person based on their beliefs but God’s Word judges all wrong doing. God makes His wishes known in His Word and same sex marriage is a violation of God’s commands. Im very disappointed that this leader of Malawi is ignorant in this area. I pray God will replace her with a God fearing leader because her spiritual future doesn’t look bright in God’s eyes. He has placed her in a position of authority and He expects her to lead righteously. She doesn’t understand that. So I pray for a Godly leader in Malawi, to lead the people into God’s blessings and favor. That comes from obeying His Word and honoring Him in all things.

    • Dear Alena,
      Thanks for your comment. One correction: The president of Malawi wanted to repeal the law that allows homosexuals to be imprisoned for their love. She wasn’t proposing establishment of same-sex marriage.
      — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

  3. There is definitely a “mis-comprehension” between same gender loving people and same sex marriage. In addition, there is also a denial that Africans can be gay like all people in the world. Ofcourse, same gender loving should ultimately lead to same sex marriage. I am African, gay and 33, nothing in my 33 years has shown me that I will ever become ex-gay, not that I havent tried to, but I was born to live like this. How I wish, the medical experts could detect at conception that a zygote is gay or transgendered, then aborted according to Biblical beliefs. Consequently, I can only wish I was one such zygote. But thanks to God, I am religious convictions are Chrsitian and still gay. So, this opposition to the decriminalization of homosexuality is rather baseless, a sign that Africans prefer to live by other’s people standards, even if those standards change, we confess being bullied for wanting to change. It will take a real leader to confront the hatred, fears and promote the real UBuntu philosophy. This conspiracy theorist syndrome, only serves to perpertuate dictatorships like those of Mugabe, who use anti-homosexuality to fight the west, how folly. What makes it so baseless, is also the fact that, homosexuality is a western import, so then what is not western in our “modern’ lives.

  4. The woman herself might be homosexual!!!! She is another sick one wants her country to be defiled by homosexuals!!!! You got to remember homosexuality is not a human right issue–instead it is a moral issue. It is sin against God!!!!

  5. Please share this mix. In between the music tracks it has a message which is crucial to all our gay brothers and sisters and all the LBGT community of the world. We won’t stay silent, about what is going on. Now that the Uganda President has found scientific justification to go against gay people, there is an anti-gay alliance forming in the union of countries trying to eradicate gay people. They claim that were made this way by our volition and therefore what we do is against nature and inhuman, so we do not deserve human right at all. Tony aka DJ Sunday Towers God’s DJ Conscience; The Truth Be Told

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