Malawi is facing calls to decriminalize same sex marriages,  a call government insists will have to undergo a thorough review.

The call has been made by a legion of EU nations like the: UK, United States of America, Canada, Netherlands and New Zealand.

Other countries in support of this move are Italy and Latvia who have presented the recommendation at a time the United Nations Human Rights Councils Universal Periodic Review Working Group was examining the country’s human rights record.

The Malawi delegation was led by Justice Minister Titus Mvalo in a meeting held online.

In one of the review sections, Mvalo was asked to state the stand of Malawi in terms of same sex marriages.

Mvalo told the forum that at the moment, same sex conduct remains illegal but was quick to state that the matter is being reviewed.

He said that Malawians will be required to make their stance on the matter as Malawi Human Rights Commission will engage them in a series of studies.

Currently, there is a moratorium placed on anti-homosexuality laws in the country.

This came in 2015 when the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs stated that the moratorium effectively meant a suspension of enforcement of these laws until a decision is made regarding repeal.

Issues to do with the LGBTI community heavily came to light following the conviction of   gay couple of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

The two were arrested and charged with “unnatural offenses” and “indecent practices between males” under sections 153 and 156 of Malawi’s Criminal Code.

The magistrate sentenced them to 14 years in prison, one of the longest sentences for consensual same-sex conduct anywhere in the world in recent memory.

The two were however later pardoned by former president late Bingu wa Mutharika, on “humanitarian grounds,” following international condemnation of the conviction, and the visit of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

At today’s meeting, Malawi has also been challenged to decongest prisons and tame human trafficking, child marriages and sexual abuse.

More so, the country has also been urged to quicken probes into sexual and gender abuses that have been heavily reported in the recent months.

The UN UPR forums has since hailed Malawi for promoting rule of law in events that led to the nullification of the 2019 presidential poll and a historical fresh presidential election in June this year.

According to Mvalo, the Malawi Defense Force helped extensively in ensuring people freely express their concerns to do with political events.

Furthermore, Malawi has been commended for promoting rule of law as evident by the Election case in which the court nullified the 2019 Election.

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of human rights records of 193 UN Member States.

Since its first meeting in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed twice within the first and second UPR cycles.

Credit: MIJ Online

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