LONDON - Responding to the Malawi Constitutional Court's decision to uphold the country’s ban on same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adults, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Khanyo Farise, said:

"The court’s decision to keep these discriminatory laws on the books is a bitter setback for human rights in Malawi.

"The ruling manifestly flies in the face of Malawi’s constitution, the African Charter and international human rights law, which all clearly prohibit discrimination. It also makes Malawi an outlier in Southern Africa, where most countries have decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual conduct.

"The court’s refusal to overturn these laws means LGBTI persons in Malawi will continue to face discrimination and persecution simply for who they love. In particular, this ruling translates to continued barriers in access to healthcare and other social services for LGBTI persons.

“Amnesty International stands with all LGBTI people in Malawi, who deserve the right to

live their lives with dignity and full humanity. We also demand that authorities ensure their safety in the face of threats of violence.”



In February 2022, with the assistance of Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, a Malawian LGBTI organisation, Malawian trans woman Jana Gonani challenged the constitutionality of one of the country’s laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct.

Police arrested Gonani in September 2021 following an altercation in Mongochi, Malawi. A male officer subjected her to a genital examination, placed her in a male holding cell and sent her to a hospital under the pretext of confirming her mental state, simply for identifying as trans.

On 23 December 2021, the Mongochi Senior Magistrate Court convicted her under the colonial-era law. She is currently serving an eight-year jail term at Blantyre Prison, one of Malawi’s most overcrowded men’s prisons.

The Constitutional Court joined Gonani’s case to an ongoing separate challenge to all three of Malawi’s colonial-era laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct.

In the months before the verdict, Malawi has experienced an anti-LGBTI backlash led by some faith and religious leaders. The Nyasa Rainbow Alliance has received abuse and physical threats, including a raid on their offices in June 2023 by unknown individuals.