There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence of homophobia and transphobia in yet hardly any detailed, statistically sound studies have been done about the actual opinions of Africans on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Under Wraps: A survey of public attitudes to homosexuality and gender non-conformity in Malawi, is the first nationally representative survey of attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Malawi, and is so called because it shows that Malawi has a comparatively high LGBTI population that is known by a significant number of ordinary Malawians , but this reality remains hidden in Malawi’s social consciousness. 


Data from the survey is available for researchers. The Other Foundation is offering limited research funds to support selected areas of interest that strengthen and support activism, the Other Foundation invites institutions and individuals interested in accessing the data to apply for access to it.




Click here to download the full report.







Click here to apply for access to the survey data or to apply for a research grant.


Research Reference Group

Zione Jane Veronica Ntaba is a judge of the High Court who sits at the High Court Zomba Registry in the Eastern Judicial Region. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Degree from the University of Malawi and a Master of Laws in Advanced Legislative Drafting from the University of London under the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Judge Ntaba is an active member of the Woman Judges Association of Malawi, focusing on providing legal advice to women and children, holding legal clinics and offering mentorship programmes. She is passionate about development issues as well as women and child rights. She passionately works with young Malawians, especially through United World Colleges Malawi.

Alan Msosa holds a PhD in human rights from the University of Essex in which he researched the challenges to the protection of human rights based on sexual orientation in Malawi. He also did a masters in Theory and Practice of Human Rights at the same university in which he researched the role of a national human rights institution in Malawi. His previous experience includes coordinating programme planning at an intergovernmental agency advancing sustainable democracy and credible elections globally; leading in monitoring and evaluation at a regional organisation advocating for rights-based approaches to the HIV and AIDS response in southern and eastern Africa; leading a team of investigators at a national human rights institution in Malawi; and conducting field research on human rights issues in Malawi. He is also a research affiliate with the University of Bergen’s Centre on Law and Social Transformation, where he is a member of a working group on sexual and reproductive rights.

MacDonald Sembereka a human rights defender and coordinates the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), a network of local civil society organisations working on accountability of government officials and promoting civil and political rights. He previously served as Executive Director of Malawi Network of Religious Leaders affected by HIV and AIDS, and also as Presidential Advisor to President Joyce Banda. He is an ordained minister.

Janet Mwandira has a bachelor’s degree in Arts Humanities from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College. She has been involved in training and facilitation, research and project implementation of various programmes in Malawi. She is passionate about community development and loves art as an approach to bring change in communities. She has worked at Art and Global Heath Centre Africa. She advocates for the rights of minorities, children, and other vulnerable groups in Malawi.

Eric Sambisa is a leading LGBTI human rights activist in Malawi who sparked a national debate when he voluntarily came out as a gay man on national television in 2016, becoming the first-ever gay man to come out publicly as a way to advance the human rights of LGBTI people in Malawi. Sambisa heads an LGBTI-led organization called the Nyasa Rainbow Alliance (NRA) which is currently seeking formal registration in Malawi through a judicial review process. Under the leadership of Sambisa, NRA received the 2019 Human Rights Defenders at Risk award from Frontline Defenders International in 2019. Sambisa believes in servant leadership and his work is deeply rooted at community level.

Gift Trapence is a human rights defender and executive director of the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), one of the earliest organizations to take up LGBTI equality and inclusion in Malawi. He is also the deputy chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC). He has participated and co-authored research on HIV and men who have sex with other men. 

Chiwoza Bandawe is Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi. He holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Cape Town. He is the current editor of the Malawi Medical Journal. He is a practising Clinical Psychologist based in Blantyre, Malawi. He has published widely on psychology, mental health and ubuntu. He has led numerous research teams on health pertaining men who have sex with other men. 

Ndifanji Namacha a young Malawian medical doctor, previously the youngest faculty member in the school of public health and family medicine, a researcher under The Africa Center of Excellence in Public Health and Herbal Medicine (ACEPHEM), a voluntary research intern at the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, a Commonwealth Youth Health Network Ambassador, and a Malaria No More UK Youth Ambassador. In 2015, she participated in advocacy for the empowerment of girls and young women on their sexual rights and use of condoms as a protective measure, which was done in partnership with the Family Planning Association of Malawi. Following her doctor’s degree, she was awarded an internship grant by Costello Medical Consulting Limited in partnership with University of Cambridge and was a visiting student and a global health intern for a project to assess youth-friendly reproductive health services in Blantyre, in which she was the principal investigator.

Eric Umar holds a PhD in Public Health from the University of Chicago. He is also a registered clinical psychologist. He is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department of Health Systems and Policy at the University of Malawi. He has previously researched and published on mental health, sexual and reproductive health, minority health rights, and psychological assessment. He is particularly skilled in policy analysis, social research, epidemiology and data analysis.

Timothy Mtambo is a passionate governance and human rights practitioner and activist. He is the executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, one of the earliest human rights movements in post-dictatorship Malawi, whose mission is to protect and promote a culture of human rights and good governance for human development. He holds an advanced Master’s degree in international cooperation and development from the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Pavia in Italy. He is the chairperson of the Malawi Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Alliance, chairperson of the Malawi Human Rights Defenders Network, chairperson of the Civil Society Network on Transparency and Accountability in Malawi, co-chairperson for the National Technical Working Group on LGBTI Rights, spokesperson of Citizens Forum for the Defense of Good Governance in Malawi, and serves in various boards and committees such as at the Malawi Electoral Support Network, the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, the Africa Technical Working Group on Open Contracting, and the Malawi Alliance Against Child Marriages.

Reverend Master Jumbe holds a Master’s degree in theology and religious studies from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College. He is currently studying for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the Malawi Institute of Management. He is the founder and chairperson of the Peace and Justice Support Network (Pejusun) and a member of the National Technical Working Group (TWG) on the Rights of Sexual Minorities in Malawi.

Jones Hamburu Mawerenga holds a PhD and teaches systematic theology at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. He has extensively researched the intersections between  sexual minorities, human rights, and religion in Malawi. He is also the author of the book The Homosexuality Debate in Malawi, published in 2018.
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