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President Of Malawi Vows To Overturn Gay Ban

President of Malawi Joyce Banda attends a protest against abuse of women in January 2012.
Thoko Chikondi
President of Malawi Joyce Banda attends a protest against abuse of women in January 2012.

The president of Malawi vowed to overturn her country's ban on homosexual acts.

The BBC reports that President Joyce Banda made the vow in her first address to Parliament.

"Some laws which were duly passed by the August house... will be repealed as a matter of urgency... these include the provisions regarding indecent practices and unnatural acts," Banda said according to the BBC.

Back in December, the United States said countries that criminalize homosexuality could face cuts to their foreign aid. As we reported, when Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced the new rules, she said "gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."

According to The Guardian, Banda made a reference to that when she said she wanted to normalize relations with "our traditional development partners who were uncomfortable with our bad laws."

The AP adds a bit more background:

"Malawi had faced international condemnation for the conviction and 14-year prison sentences given in 2010 to two men who were arrested after celebrating their engagement and were charged with unnatural acts and gross indecency.

"Then President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned the couple on 'humanitarian grounds only' while insisting they had 'committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws.'

"Mutharika died in office in April. Banda, who was vice president, stepped in to serve out his term which ends in 2014."

The BBC reports that Banda's party has control over Parliament so her plans should be able to go forward.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.