A number of young religious people in Malawi have threatened to sue the government, if they don’t arrest 4,000 homosexuals living in one of the country’s northern cities.

The Young Pastors Coalition of Malawi (YPCM) has said the government is breaking the law in Mzuru because to not arrest LGBT people amounts to promotion.

The statement, signed by the coalition’s director Patrick Banda and general secretary Tusalifye Mbeye, calls on the government to stop holding back and to arrest and prosecute homosexuals.

“We want the group that conducted the survey to present the names of the 4,000 homosexuals to police so that they can be arrested and face prosecution,” it said in a statement.

“This statement should warn officials like the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Inspector General of Police to take action and treat any homosexual as a criminal, the same way thieves are treated as criminals.”

Malawi’s Justice Minister, Samuel Tembenu, said it would be better for pastors to focus on pastoral care than matters of state.

He said: “Let our pastors continue doing their good work of saving lost souls. However, they should let experts in human rights, constitutionalism and law enforcement to do what they are supposed to do.”

The figure of 4,000 people came after the Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) conducted research in order to try and tackle the HIV crisis in the country.

Gill Trapence from Cedep rubbished the calls as retrogressive.

“Such calls are retrogressive considering that government’s moratorium shows government’s commitment to review gay laws. Pastors should remember that we live in a free society. People are free to associate and enjoy human rights,” she said.

There is currently a moratorium on LGBT prosecutions in Malawi as the government say they will review existing legislation, however anyone who is convicted under current laws faces a jail term of up to 14 years.