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Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The Center for the Development of People documented 16 instances of abuse based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The nature of the abuses fell into three broad categories: stigma, harassment, and violence. Although victims were willing to report the abuses to the center, they did not want their orientation to be revealed to their families or the public, so no investigations or prosecutions resulted.

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct, or “unnatural offenses,” and conviction is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment, including hard labor. Conviction of attempting “unnatural offenses” is punishable by seven years’ imprisonment. The penal code also criminalizes “indecent practices” between men as well as between women and provides for punishment of five years’ imprisonment if convicted. The government did not actively enforce these laws.

Same-sex sexual conduct may also be prosecuted as “conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.”

The law does not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons. The revised Malawi National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS (202025) included transgender persons and men who have sex with men as part of the key populations to be targeted to reach its goals.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future