Accra, Ghana
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent non-governmental organisation created to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth. We push for an adherence to the Commonwealth's Harare Principles and the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CHRI was established in 1987 after several Commonwealth countries voiced their concern about a lack of focus on Human rights within the Commonwealth organization. CHRI currently has three offices; in Delhi, London and Accra. The Africa office was opened in Accra in 2001 and is at the forefront of the fight to uphold basic human freedoms in the region. We work in three main areas of human rights: Human Rights Advocacy; Access to justice and The Right to Information.

Thursday 7 July 2011

LGBT Situation in Malawi

Malawi recently had its aid from Britain suspended due to its poor human rights record. Here is the CHRI take on its homosexual human rights track record.

Law that Criminalises Homosexuality

Penal Code Cap. 7:01 Laws of Malawi

Section 153 defines unnatural offences as carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature or permitting a male person to have carnal knowledge of [a male or female person] against the order of nature.  Whoever commits this felony is liable to up to fourteen years imprisonment, with or without corporal punishment.

Section 156 criminalises
Gross indecency of one male person with another male person in public or private and carries a liability of up to five years imprisonment.[1]

Under Malawi’s current law, rape is non-consensual sex with a member of the opposite sex who is not one’s spouse. Forcible sex with one’s spouse is not illegal.[2]

Practical Consequences of the law

December 30, 2009 -Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza: were arrested after holding a traditional engagement ceremony, and charged with public indecency.

February 3, 2010 -Peter Sawali: arrested for putting up posters that stated ‘gay rights are human rights’; charged with causing a ‘breach of the peace’.

May 20, 2010 - Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were convicted and sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law, of 14 years with hard Labour for engaging in acts of sodomy and acts of indecency.

May 29, 2010 – Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza: Presidential pardon on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
February 9, 2010 – Peter Sawali: sentenced to community service, to clean the premises of Blantyre Magistrates Court for 60 days.

Constitutional Clause on Equality or Right to Privacy

Republic of Malawi (Constitution) Act 1994[3]
Under Article 20 Discrimination of persons in any form is prohibited and all persons are, under any law, guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, disability, property, birth or other status.  Further, legislation may be passed addressing inequalities in society and prohibiting discriminatory practices and the propagation of such practices and may render such practices criminally punishable by the courts.
Article 21 guarantees, to every person the right to personal privacy, including protection against searches of his or her person, home or property; the seizure of private possessions; or interference with private communications, including mail and all forms of telecommunications.

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