Malawi President Joyce Banda on Friday
pledged to repeal a law against gay sex.
Banda made her vow in her first state
of the nation address.
“Indecency and unnatural acts laws
shall be repealed,” she is quoted as saying by the AP.
Repealing the law requires a
parliamentary vote and anti-gay sentiment remains high in Malawi.
“The issue of homosexuality has been
a contentious issue,” human rights activist Undule Mwakasungula
told the AP. “Definitely it will raise controversy in parliament.”
Banda, who was vice president, stepped
in to serve out President Bingu wa Mutharika's term which ends in
2014 after he died on April 5.
In 2010, Mutharika pardoned two men who
were charged with and found guilty of unnatural acts and gross
indecency for participating in a symbolic engagement ceremony.
However, Mutharika remained opposed to gay rights, describing the gay
ceremony as “satanic” and “a crime against our culture, against
our religion and against our laws.” The men had been sentenced to
serve 14-years of hard labor.
The sentence was condemned by the
United States and Britain. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley
called the harsh sentence “appalling.”
It is a criminal offense to be gay in
at least 37 African countries.