Homosexual acts are illegal in Malawi but president Joyce Banda has announced her government’s intention to decriminalise homosexuality. The move is in stark contrast to the approach of her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika, who openly condemned it.



Male to male relationships: Not legal

Punishments for male to male relationships: Imprisonment of 10 years or more

Female to female relationships: Not legal

Marriage and substitutes for marriage: No law


More on Malawi law at


Consensual female same-sex sexual acts in Malawi were previously not criminalised, but in December 2010, Malawi’s Parliament passed a bill amending the Penal Code to include Section 137A, which prohibits “any act of gross indecency with another female” which was enacted into law in January 2011. (Source: European Parliament)


Minister of Justice Ephraim Chiume announced in December 2011 that Malawi would review the ban on homosexual acts, "in response to public onion". (Source:


Legal incidents and social climate

In May 2010, a Malawian couple, a transgender woman and a man, were convicted by the Malawian courts for having committed "unnatural offenses" and "indecent practices between males" under sections 153 and 156 of Malawi's criminal code, following arrest at their home in Blantyre. Local newspapers had reported that Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza had participated in a public same-sex chinkhoswe, or engagement ceremony. The couple was sentenced to the maximum 14 years in prison with hard labour, but later pardoned by former President Bingu wa Mutharika after an international outcry. (Source:


Read more about the social climate for LGBT people in Malawi in this article from


More details in this shadow report on Malawi by International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)


LGBT organizations/networks

CEDEP, The Centre For The Development Of People : CEDEP is a registered human rights organisation dedicated to addressing the needs, improving the lives, and providing support for some of Malawi's most neglected minority groups through civic education, training, capacity building, networking and research.



Violence and Discrimination Based on Real or Perceived Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Malawi is a 2015 report that focuses on human rights violations in Malawi. By focusing on its discriminatory laws towards LGBTIs, the report elaboate on how the existence of such laws sends a message to the broader population that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is acceptable, and that human rights do not apply to LGBTI people. This creates an environment in which people can perpetrate acts of human rights violations with impunity.


LGBTnet is developed by LGBT Denmark and The Danish Family Planning Association, Danish Refugee Council & Sabaah • Contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.