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Malawi suspends anti-gay laws

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But in October, it appeared that she might be going back on her pledge, after she told the Associated Press in an interview that Malawians “were not ready” to deal with such a change.

'Embarrassment for the government'

Announcing the moratorium on the anti-gay laws, Mr. Kasambara, the justice minister, told Malawi’s Nyasa Times that while the president did not wish to “interfere or be judgmental,” she wanted to clarify matters.

"If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to government," Kasambara said.

"It is better to let one criminal get away with it rather than throw a lot of innocent people in jail."

Kelvin Maigwa, a spokesman for Malawian police, says that at present there are few arrests in Malawi for homosexual acts.

"These cases are not really very common in Malawi," Mr. Maigwa says. "If really they exist, the people who engage in homosexuality are not free to openly declare such for fear of the law."

But John Gift Mwakhwawa, president of the Malawi Law Society, says that though he welcomes the strengthening of minority rights, laws can only be suspended by parliamentary vote or the constitutional court.

“We have institutions charged with particular responsibilities and while I sympathize with the government’s position, those institutions, be they conservative or not, must be allowed to make those decisions, otherwise you open the floodgates,” Mr. Mwakhwawa says.

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