Media outlets in Malawi yesterday reported the arrest of two men on homosexuality charges — despite a 2012 decision to halt such arrests countrywide.
Police spokesperson Esther Nkwanda said the incident happened on Monday after the two had been at a bar. Afterward, she said, they went to Gonani’s house and had sex.
When Kulemela was leaving the house he met people whom Malawi24 called “community policing members” who asked him what had been going on in the house. Kulemela reportedly said the two men had been making love, after which “residents invaded Gonani’s house.”
The two men reportedly face charges of sodomy, but have not appeared in court. Dec. 9
Malawi24 reported today that Kulemela and Gonani were released on bail after being taken to Kamuzu Central Hospital “for assessment.”
Malawi’s anti-homosexuality law is still on the books, but then Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Chikaya-Banda announced last year that the country is no longer arresting people for same-sex acts.
Under the law, sexual intimacy between men is punishable by up to 14 years in prison; for women, the maximum punishment is five years. But the constitutionality of those laws is currently in question. Human rights activists argue that the laws violate Malawi’s constitutional protections for citizens regardless of their sex, race, tribe or religion.
The High Court is focused on a review of the case of three men — Amon Champyuni, Mathews Bello and Musa Chiwisi — who were convicted in 2011 and are serving sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years for practicing homosexuality.
Arrests under Malawi’s anti-gay laws had been on hold since November 2012, when then Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara declared a moratorium on arrests and prosecutions. He later denied making that decision, but a later Nyasa Times article confirmed that in 2012 the government issued “a moratorium where it ordered police not to arrest people for same-sex acts until the anti-gay laws are reviewed by parliament.”
- Malawi government defying moratorium on gays—Cedep, CHRR (Dec. 14, 2015, Malawi’s The Times)
- Two men who were caught having sex released on bail (Dec. 10, 2015, Malawi24)
- Two men charged with ‘gay sex’ act charged in Malawi (Dec. 9, 2015, Nyasa Times)
- Two gays arrested while having sex in Malawi (Dec. 9, 2015, Malawi24)
- Malawi is Ready to Legalise Homosexuality’ — Mutharika (July 4, 2015, Malawi24)
- It’s official: No more Malawi arrests under anti-gay laws (July 2014, 76crimes.com)
- 3 in Malawi prisons await ruling on sodomy law