Court Finishes Hearing Homosexuality Case

Nyirenda Nyirenda - pic by Christopher Sande

A panel of three judges, sitting as a constitutional court in Blantyre says it will deliver its judgement on a homosexuality case at a date to be communicated.

Lead Judge, Joseph Chigona said this on Tuesday afternoon after hearing oral submissions from all parties.

This was said after Blantyre high court became busy on Monday and Tuesday where the judges were hearing oral submissions from all parties.

The first to present the submissions was lawyer for the second claimant, counsel Bob Chimkango who told the court that his client, Jana Gonani was arrested and harassed to the extent of being undressed to verify whether he was male or not, insisting that his client had consensual sexual activities.

Chimkango further stated that his client was wrongly charged thereby pushing the court to release him and declare some provisions of the penal code sections 153 a, 154 and 156 unconstitutional.

“Our expectation is that the court will make two decisions. One is acquitting my client Jana Gonani on the unnatural offenses, being forced to undress and the second expectation is that the provisions we have cited should be removed describing them as unconstitutional,” explained Chimkango.

But state lawyer Victor Jere and Attorney General, Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda said the two claimants, a Dutch national, Wim Akster and Jana Gonani are just wasting the court’s time arguing that the two-lack sufficient interest in the matter.

They further explained that AKster and Gonani had no consensual sexual activities with the victims.

“Both claimants did not have consent to have sex with the victims. Nine victims (males) mentioned that Akster abused them sexually and for Gonani, he tricked men by dressing like a female when he was a man, meaning that consent was marred by fraud,” said Jere.

On his part Nyirenda said: “The claimants lack sufficient interest in the matter. Further, what constitutes morality is what society through representatives decide. It can not be the court to impose morality on society.”

Apart from the state, Attorney General and the claimants' lawyers, Amicus curiae or friends of court also presented their submissions including Center for Human Rights Education, ADvice and Assistance, Center for Development of People (CEDEP) and Religious bodies like the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Muslim Association of Malawi and Evangelical Association of Malawi.

This is a case where two people, a Dutch national, Wim Akster and Jana Gonani are challenging the constitutionality of laws that criminalize same sex relationships in Malawi.

The matter is being handled by judges Joseph Chigona, Vikochi Chima and Chimbizgani Kacheche.

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