The decision by the People’s Party (PP) led government to repeal anti-homosexuality laws in the country has been hastened as Malawians have not been consulted on it, the opposition People’s Transformation Party (Petra) has said.
Petra President Kamuzu Chibambo has said this in a statement released on Saturday in reaction to the State of the Nation Address President Joyce Banda made marking the opening of the budget session last Friday.
“Petra is disturbed by attempts to repeal some of the contentious laws without any prior consultation with the Malawi people,” says the statement, adding, “The late President Bingu wa Mutharika was severely criticised when he proceeded to pardon [homosexuals] Tionge Chimbalanga and Steve Monjeza before making any consultations.”
Chibambo said decriminalising homosexuality and its allied practices is tantamount to legalising same sex marriages hence the need to tread with care.
“In the first place, it is a misnomer [incorrect] to call same sex partnerships as marriages. Malawi would be making a grave mistake to legalise same sex marriages… as it would be an onslaught on the family which is the bedrock of society.
“We, therefore, strongly urge parliamentarians, faith leaders and all Christians and Muslims alike both within and outside the country to vehemently resist any intention directly or indirectly to legalise same sex marriage. The time to act is now,” says Chibambo.
Tackling the address in general, Chibambo describes it as “over-ambitious” and “too broad” a statement whose realisation is very doubtful.
“The President’s statement in our view is over-ambitious given the acute macro-economic and social challenges currently facing Malawi which the new administration has inherited.
“Our expectation was that the new administration would at this point in time confine itself to few strategic areas like the economy, energy, job creation, divisive and oppressive policies,” says Chibambo, adding that whilst dreams are important, they have to be realistic too.
Chibambo says Petra has decided to come out clearly at the outset to underscore the fact that it will from time to time offer constructive criticisms for the good of the country rather than praise singing even when things are not well.
He therefore urged those in power never take such criticisms as an attack on personalities but should rather reflect on them and improve where necessary.
Banda, in her address, said her government would repeal some laws which were duly passed by parliament but were referred back to the Malawi Law Commission, including the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts (homosexuality) contained in sections 137A and 153 – 156 of the Penal Code.
As it stands now, the Penal Code 153(9) says anyone involved in homosexuality practices “shall be guilty of a felony and shall be liable to imprisonment for 14 years imprisonment with or without corporal punishment”.
Other “bad laws” President Banda said she would repeal are section 46 of the Penal Code (Cap7:01); the Civil Procedure (Suits by or Against the Government and Public Officers) (Amendment Act, 2011); the local Courts Act, 2011; and Section 35 of the Police Act, 2010.