Target: Malawi Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara and President Joyce Banda
Goal: Commend the suspension of anti-gay laws and support the formal repeal of these laws.
Earlier this year, Malawi President Joyce Banda promised to review and potentially repeal the anti-gay laws which are currently in place in Malawi, Africa. As in much of Africa, same-sex relationships in Malawi are illegal and can mean up to 14 years in prison for accused men and up to five years in prison for accused women. Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara said in a statement reported by Amnesty International that these anti-gay laws have been put on suspension pending a formal review and possible vote to repeal them once and for all. Sign this petition to commend Malawi for this important step forward and support the vote to repeal the anti-gay laws in Malawi.
The United States Supreme Court, in the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, ruled 6-3 that sodomy laws were unconstitutional when engaged in by two consenting, unrelated adults–a major step towards federally decriminalizing same-sex relations in the U.S. However, many states refuse to remove sodomy laws from their books, effectively making same-sex behavior still illegal in those states. Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy reported in 2011 that 14 states still have anti-gay laws on their books. While these states cannot enforce these laws, Murphy reports that by keeping these laws on the books, these state governments are sending the message that homosexuality is not condoned by the government.
In Malawi, homosexuality has historically not just been condemned by the government, but in as recently as 2010, two men were arrested for having a same-sex relationship and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Their conviction was overturned following an international outcry on their behalf. In light of the outcry following this 2010 conviction, there is good reason to believe that the nation will vote to repeal the anti-gay laws and work to promote the rights of every man and woman in Malawi, regardless of sexual orientation. Additionally, the anti-gay laws have threatened relationships and trade agreements with nations such as Britain, whose foreign aid goes toward helping the poor.
Anti-gay laws and the violence against homosexuals that stems from these laws are violations of basic human rights. The right to privacy, the right to freedom from discrimination and persecution, and as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stated in 2003, ‘Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.’ Sign this petition and commend Malawi for taking strides towards righting this wrong and support the vote to formally repeal Malawi’s anti-gay laws, which deny men and women their basic human rights.
Dear Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara and President Joyce Banda,
We commend your recent decision to suspend the current anti-gay laws in Malawi and we support the vote to repeal the anti-gay laws which work to hinder the basic rights and freedoms of homosexual men and women in Malawi. These individuals have the right to privacy, the right to freedom from discrimination and persecution by the government, and the the right to freedom of belief and expression. It is our hope and belief that through discussion and debate on the rights of homosexuals, which was welcomed by Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara, Malawi will deem these anti-gay laws unconstitutional and repeal them.
The suspension of these intolerant and hateful laws is just one step towards ending discrimination, but it is a first step. We hope that other nations will follow Malawi’s example and work to repeal laws which deny individuals their basic human rights. Thank you for taking this first step in Malawi and please continue taking steps to not just suspend, but formally repeal these intolerant laws.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DFID- UK Department for International Development via Flickr