The Malawi Fart Law – An Update

In a post that can be found here, a summary of the internationally reported story that the African nation of Malawi was proposing a bill to criminalize farting was reprinted here, based on an article in Malawi’s largest English-language newspaper, the Nyasa Times.

In a comment to the post by PeterV of Malawi stated that he had read the proposed Local Courts Bill and questioned whether the proposed law did, in fact, outlaw flatulence in public. The comment, which can be viewed here, asked “Isn’t it possible that the flatulence notion and subsequent viral media craze came from an opponent of this bill criticizing the ‘breach of peace’ clause?”

Now, the BBC is reporting that, subject to local court interpretation, PeterV may be on to something:

BBC

Two of Malawi’s most senior judicial officials are arguing over whether a new bill includes a provision that outlaws breaking wind in public.

Justice Minister George Chaponda says the new bill would criminalize flatulence to promote “public decency”.

“Just go to the toilet when you feel like farting,” he told local radio.

However, he was directly contradicted by Solicitor General Anthony Kamanga, who says the reference to “fouling the air” means pollution.

“How any reasonable or sensible person can construe the provision to criminalizing farting in public is beyond me,” he said, adding that the prohibition contained in the new law has been in place since 1929.

The Local Courts Bill, to be introduced next week reads: “Any person who vitiates the atmosphere in any place so as to make it noxious to the public to the health of persons in general dwelling or carrying on business in the neighborhood or passing along a public way shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

Mr. Chaponda, a trained lawyer, insists that this includes farting.

“Would you be happy to see people farting anyhow?” he asked on the popular “Straight Talk” program on Malawi’s Capital Radio.

He said that local chiefs would deal with any offenders.

When asked whether it could be enforced, he said it would be similar to laws banning urinating in public.

via BBC

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