Malawi has announced that it will stop arresting people for having gay sex, and will review its anti-gay laws.

Responding to questions from the UN Human Rights Committee, Justice Minister Janet Chikaya-Banda said the country would stop arresting people for same-sex acts while a review of the country’s anti-gay laws is completed. 

She said the review had stalled due to financial constraints, despite a ruling last autumn by the High Court to review the constitutionality of the laws.

The ruling came after three men sentenced under the country’s anti-gay laws began an appeal to the High Court.

In May 2012, President Joyce Banda initially pledged to repeal the laws, but later declared that Malawi was “not ready” to decriminalise homosexuality.

Enforcement of anti-gay laws was temporarily halted in November 2012, when then-Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara directed arrests to stop, pending a debate in parliament.

However, after a fierce reaction from churches and lobbying groups,enforcement of the laws was reinstated a few days later.

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Malawi with custodial sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment.