Last year, a couple was imprisoned for several months in Malawi following a traditional engagement ceremony based on a law criminalizing homosexuality. Similar laws exist in about 2/3 of African Union member nations. They were eventually pardoned by President Mutharika following loud international condemnation. Apparently, however, this incident served to bring to light a gap in Malawi’s laws members of Parliament decided to address.
Early last month, a bill was passed in Malawi’s parliament criminalizing homosexuality between women. Evidently there was concern the prior law could be construed to only apply to men, and since Malawi is clearly dedicated to making all things equal, decided it was necessary consenting adult women sharing their love also deserved the right to go to prison. As far as I know, the bill has yet to be signed into law by President Mutharika.
In more positive news this week, a court in Uganda decided publishing the names of LGBT people is completely uncool. While a pending law allowing for punishment by the death penalty for engaging in homosexuality lingers in limbo, an enterprising tabloid decided putting names and pictures in papers with the words “hang them” was an appropriate vigilante maneuver.
So boo to Malawi legislators and three cheers to the Ugandan high court as LGBT individuals struggle to be treated with respect, dignity and human rights in Africa.