Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera is opened to allowing the citizens of his country to decide on the legalization of same-sex marriages while he has no clear stand on the matter, according to the press secretary to the presidency.
Press Secretary Brian Banda explained at a weekly briefing on Monday that it was not up to “the President alone to decide”. Malawians would have to “discuss as a country on the way forward”, Banda said in response to a journalist who asked a question.
While he was an ordained Christian pastor, Chakwera is said to be willing to listen to pro-gay and anti-gay rights advocates but the decision ultimately rested with Malawians.
But the national coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition (HRDC), Luke Tembo, was insistent that the president had to show leadership by making his position clear. Malawi has in recent times been forced to confront the issue of legalization of same-sex relationships thanks to the work advocates.
The Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, a pro-LGBT+ rights group, has been at the forefront of the fight. According to its founder Eric Sambisa, legalizing same-sex relationships was an opportunity for Malawi to demonstrate its acceptance of “diversity, equality, freedom, tolerance, respect, dignity and fairness”.
“Put simply, equality means making the same choices available to all and that’s prospering,” he told local newspaper Nyasa Times.
According to a national attitudes survey by the South African LGBT non-profit The Other Foundation, 80% of Malawians think homosexuality is a sin and should be discouraged. However, one out of three of every Malawian wants the law to protect members of the LGBT community.
For most African countries, anti-gay laws are vestiges of colonization even though post-independent governments have fallen on religious reasons to criminalize same-sex affairs. Only 10 out of the 54 African countries have decriminalize same-sex relationships.