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Malawi enacts moratorium on anti-gay laws

A moratorium [Malawi Today report] has been enacted on Malawi's laws barring same-sex marriage and homosexuality, Malawi Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara announced on Monday. According to him, the laws were suspended [Reuters report] to enable to the country consider permanently nullifying them. Section 153 and 156 [ILGA backgrounder, PDF] of Malawi's Penal Code stipulate 14 years or 5 years imprisonment, respectively, for anyone engaging in male homosexual activity or relationships. This year the law prompted the international community to lessen their aid to Malawi. South Africa is the only country in Africa where same-sex marriage is not prohibited [BBC report].

In May Malawi President Joyce Banda announced in her first national address [text] that she would decriminalize homosexual acts [JURIST report]. This announcement came as a move to normalize relations with Malawi's development partners in response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration [official websites] pledging to promote LGBT rights when granting foreign aid [JURIST report]. In September 2010 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] called for countries around the world to abolish laws discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals [press release; JURIST report].

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