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Commonwealth commends Malawi as it moves toward freedom of sexual orientation

23 December 2015

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, today welcomed the suspension of anti-homosexuality laws in Malawi. The suspension was announced by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu. The minister has stated that suspension of the laws will remain in place while they are reviewed and that they are open to a public consultation in accordance with the national constitution.

"During his eight-year tenure, the Secretary-General has consistently called on member states with anti-homosexuality laws to review them against their international legal obligations, their national constitutions, and the Commonwealth Charter, which is inclusive and non-discriminatory," said Neil Ford, the Commonwealth's Spokesperson. "We welcome Malawi's announcement.  If required, the Commonwealth stands ready to assist with the envisaged legislative review, or to provide other help."

The Secretary-General first raised Malawi's anti-homosexuality laws with the late President Bingu wa Mutharika, who then asked to for them to be reviewed by the Law Commission of Malawi. The Secretary-General continued to raise the subject with subsequent Presidents.

"Malawi's Minister of Justice describes anti-homosexuality laws as a legacy from the colonial era, potentially incompatible with international legal obligations," continued Mr Ford. "The review is therefore a positive step for Malawi and for the Commonwealth, which is an association of forward-looking, modern-day states founded on values such as non-discrimination, inclusiveness and respect for the rule of law."