Malawi Starts Process To Decriminalize Homosexuality

Authorities in Malawi have begun the process to repeal laws against homosexuality and transgenderism, according to the international LGBT rights group All Out.

Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara has instituted an immediate moratorium on arrests and prosecutions as Malawi’s parliament puts the current penal code under a constitutional review. The African country of 14 million is one of 36 on the continent (and 76 globally) that have laws against being trans or gay.

President Joyce Banda received praise from the international community when she announced her desire to strike the laws from the books—as well as stern criticism from other African leaders—but she’s all too aware that world leaders like Hilary Clinton and David Cameron are connecting humanitarian aid to LGBT rights.

“If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to [the] government,” Minister Kasambara told Reuters of the moratorium.

All Out leader Andre Banks praised the move as an “African solution to an African problem,” calling laws that criminalize homosexuality a “Western export” from Europe. “Malawi has created its own path to undo the enduring and tragic legacy of British colonial laws that made it a crime to live openly and love who you choose,” Banks said in a statement.