Madonna, Currently in Malawi, Should Speak Out in Support of the Imprisoned Gay Couple There, Whose Trial Begins Today


Madonna, who is in Malawi currently on a charity trip to launch an education campaign based on mobile technology and oversee the construction of the school she has funded there, has the opportunity to speak out in support of gay couple Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who have been jailed since December for holding an engagement ceremony.

The couple's trial starts TODAY.

Madonna_malawi Reuters (IRIN) reports: "The case, which has drawn international criticism of Malawi's laws, is set to begin on 6 April after a magistrate decided there was sufficient state evidence to proceed. The couple face up to 14 years in prison if they lose.
The court case – which is rare in a country where most people charged with same-sex acts plead guilty due to lack of legal representation – has sparked intense public scrutiny and police crackdowns, increasing the risk of arrest and harassment for MSM, and decreasing their access to vital HIV prevention services.
'This case has put us in an awkward position in terms of our programming,' said Gift Trapence, director of the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP) a human rights organization.
'Police are more empowered to arrest people, so it is very hard for the MSM community to come to meetings. It's also become very hard even for the organization to distribute HIV/AIDS information [to them] because that will be regarded as promoting something illegal … that's what the media and the church and the government officials are saying.'"

NYT: "The singer is on a trip with her Raising Malawi charity she began in 2006, and will watch the first bricks laid down at her school, The Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, located in Chinkhota village about 15 kilometers outside the capital, Lilongwe, according to the charity's website.

Madonna also will visit the Millennium Village — a United Nations-backed project to fight poverty — along with economist Jeffrey Sachs and CEO of consumer electronics firm Ericsson Hans Vestberg. She and Vestberg will formally announce an education campaign on Tuesday."

Calls for the gay couple's unconditional release by Amnesty International have gone unanswered.

If human rights, gays and lesbians, and the health of the nation of Malawi are that important to Madonna, she should speak out in support of this jailed couple, whose situation, according to the Reuters report above, is not only intolerable from a human rights standpoint, but is worsening the AIDS crisis in Malawi.

As a celebrity with a high profile in the country who is visiting at this opportune time at the beginning of this couple's trial, she has the power to make a difference, and should.


The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has called on LGBT people and advocates from around the world to write the couple and show their support. Said a spokesman: “It is clear that local, regional and international attention to this case has helped lessen the physical and verbal abuse that the two had experiences in the early days of their incarceration.”

Which is another reason Madonna should speak out.

Write to Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza at: 

Chichiri Prison, P.O. Box 30117, Chichiri, Blantyre


  1. Feral says

    It’s a tough call. Setting up a permanent school or schools in the country–and there for the groundbreaking!–is obviously not the best time to criticize their cultural norms, however abhorrent.

    She would really have to weigh–or guess–the benefits against the cost for her own clearly altruistic project. Not a great position to be in.

  2. Richie says

    She should but she won’t. Remember how little she got involved in Prop 8. Madonna only does what’s good for Madonna.

  3. Kayla says

    If anybody thinks that Madonna commenting on this issue would have any positive effect in the lives of this particular couple or other gay Malawians they’re dreaming. Africans have already designated homosexuality the “white man’s disease”, how do you think that a White millionairess, celebrity pontificating about homophobia would come across? Just more ammunition for ignorant homophobes to reinforce their, “white people are bringing this gay thing to Africa” nonsense. Madonna would have a much greater impact by bringing a wider perspective to students at her schools there, so that at least those children can grow up to be more tolerant.

  4. Felix says

    “MADONNA SHOULD…” (?) what kind of title is that for a blog post?

    How about “Despite risk of of facing charges, American blogger Andie Towle WILL BE visiting Malawi to speak out against its antigay Government laws.

  5. says

    @kayala: “The white man’s disease”……Ha Ha. The French always called homosexuality the English disease and the English called it the French disease.
    It seems good to me to speak out against discrimination no matter where you find it or what you call it.
    And Madonna, Trocaire, Concern, Amnesty should all be screaming from the rooftops against ignorance, even if it is dressed up as cultural difference. Just as we scream against genital mutilation, execution in the USA and burning heretics and witches.
    All so called cultural bullshit.
    So, yeah, Madonna should put up.

  6. dan says

    Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Madonna. But what bugs me about her is that she has such a HUGE gay following and (from what I’ve seen at least) isn’t overly supportive of her gay fans. Certainly not as overtly supportive as Lady Gaga. If she doesn’t do it in the US, what makes you think she’ll do it in Africa?

  7. jason says

    Madonna intervene??? LOL!!! I think some of you are either on drugs or suffering post-Easter chocolate hangover syndrome. Oh, my sides are so sore from laughter.

    Madonna is quite simply a self-serving individual. Her singing was designed to make money. Her “appeal” to the gay community exploited the delusional mindset of cashed-up, drug-fucked queens who think a dance song is a sign of gay lib.

    Face it, guys – you bought a soggy sausage.

  8. says

    I think Madonna’s done more than any other star (GaGa included—Dan, you’ve got a short memory or just a young one) to push the fact that being gay is normal. I think in recent years she’s been working on other issues, but that should not erase her record.

    As for Malawi, I at first thought maybe she should, but I am sensitive to the thought that she could complicate things for the men unintentionally and then she’d have that on her conscience (and would have angry gay people on her ass for, as they would accuse, doing something to stir up trouble and for publicity that didn’t end well).

    She also has to worry about her own children, two of whom are from Malawi. They’re hers now, and yet it could complicate her visits.

    But ultimately, she is an influential person in Malawi (albeit an outsider) and the fact that she is physically in Malawi now while this is unfolding makes me think she really ought to speak out. I think she could do this in a way that was not obnoxious and presumptuous. I also hope she is trying to influence things behind the scenes.

    It’s not on her shoulders, what Malawi decides to do, but I do think she could make a difference and now is not a good time to become skittish about speaking her mind.

    And fuck off Jason, I like her music and that has nothing to do with drugs (??? where does that come from?) or how much money I make (you sound like a jealous, class-warfare-obsessed loser, honestly).

  9. says

    Andy has been raising awareness about this issue for months. What have you done Maverick69 and Felix, except for leave anonymous snarky messages you trolls.

  10. Derek says

    Amen Don. I could not have said it better myself. But I can add:

    Maverick and Felix, go fuck your cunty selves.

  11. crispy says

    I think Madonna should dress up in a Ninja costume and bust them outta there. It’s the only way we’ll ever be satisfied.

  12. Rowan says

    @ Matthew Rettenmund

    I’m not being snarky. I’m genuinely curios as to what Madonna has to the the gay community which has suited her purposes 1st and foremost?

    She ripped off Vogue so badly form the latino & black community that she had to pose ‘suggestively…AGAIN’ when doing videos against Aids.

    And you will see that it was Elton John who had to get her to take part and AGAIN she had to make it all about her by pretending to hump her dancers.

    Gay guys like battered wives when it comes to Madonna.

    Lady Gaga is so opportunistic it’s not even funny but she’s gone on marches and has given talks. Madonna has done NOTHING of this.

    The gay community worships her like some kid who’s mothers keeps on beating on them but then says ‘mommy was just upset’.

    Good on Andy.

    Yeah, I wonder what Andy indeed has done if not continously post about this story when not more ten 10 people comment. Care to ask Andy how many pages he gets for this compared to a post about Gaga or anything that isn’t gay Africans?


    How you can compare a blogger who can be like Perez and chase the page views but instead systematically posts about gay rights with a silly attention seeking 50 year old mother of 3 who is dating a 20 year old and has spent her whole life shoving her vagina in our faces to make cash? I find insane.

  13. randolfo says

    Funny how people revise history. I believe it was Madonna who started raising money for AIDS through dance-a-thons long before other celebrities jumped on that bandwagon. As far as Malawi, I don’t think she could do much for those poor boys. They will be martyred; the world can’t do anything but watch. Also, Andy has the right to put anything he wants in his headlines – his name is on the blog. Go Andy.

  14. Aron says

    Madonna post? Cue the haters.

    Just because she doesn’t grovel at the feel of the gay community at every moment of every day does not mean we should throw her under the bus. She was one of the first celebrities (along with Elizabeth Taylor) to take on AIDS in the 80’s when it was considered toxic for celebrities to do so. She has donated countless dollars to AIDS research. But she’s also a woman who has other things to do and other things going on in her life. For example, building a school for girls in Malawi. Madonna “should” do what she wants to do. She doesn’t owe us anything. If her main priority there is for the school, why should she do anything to distract from or possibly endanger that endeavor? She’s not Jesus. She’s a human being. Give it a rest, haters. And call me when YOU travel to Malawi and protest against the treatment of this gay couple or build a school for underprivileged girls or anything!

  15. says

    there are so many of you commenting that i’d love to high-five… even though some of you digressed into some catty name-calling, i think a lot of good points were made. madonna does a lot for the world at large (not just “gay” causes); building a school and supporting programs which give children a broader sense of the world is one of those things. that way, the children can create the lives they want and make up their own minds about life… remember africa is a very dangerous place with a lot of desperate people. empowering the children of that continent will change the world for the better. if you want to show your support for those two men, do something! write them.

  16. Trog says

    What’s with the Madonna revisionist history? She’s always been a champion of gays rights and an outspoken leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

    Here’s an ’80s flashback: You’re a scared shitless gay teenager in a small town. No internet. Pre Will & Grace. Madonna is one of the only celebs even talking about gays and HIV. It’s a conservative time: Regan, Bush I, AIDS panic, etc. Just the fact that Madonna existed as a sexual, edgy, in-control-of-her-own-destiny party girl was hugely controversial and inspiring (think of her bra-as-outerwear period in “Desperately Seeking Susan”). Yes, she explicitly included gay people on her dance floor, but she stood for sexual freedom, feminism, fuck-authority individualism and other cool ideals that helped me become a healthy happy gay adult in 2010. Sound as cheesy as one of her recent dance mixes? Sure. But I don’t care. Fuck all the haters (that’s a lesson I learned from Madge).

    Oh, and Malawi is a complicated issue. By speaking up, she could very much make matters worse. Let’s get more educated and sophisticated in our criticisms, people. The level of discourse on this site is devolving to queerty quality.

  17. sal says

    i dont think she comments cause people look at her like she’s just as bad as us,with all of her provocative videos and images…but i still hope she says SOMETHIN

  18. Keith says

    I think she faces a real moral dilemma: speak up for the oppressed or stay silent so that nothing gets in the way of building a school that will help hundreds of impoverished orphans. Could a leader do both?
    The problem is that she has publicly championed the Malawi as a country worth saving. The poverty and suffering there is too great to ignore and something must be done. She is admirably doing her part and making the country her most public cause. That said, she has been a champion of the gay community and it’s a huge portion of her fan base. She is known for speaking out even when it’s unpopular. Remember last summer when she stopped her concert in Romania to speak against that country’s intolerance and bigotry toward the Roma (gypsies) and got booed by the audience?
    I have such high expectations of her because I’m such a huge fan. I think she can make a public statement against the unjust trial and imprisonment of this couple (who face a 14-year prison sentence) and still successfully build her school. She has garnered enough good will and respect in the country by her good works that she may have the opportunity to do further good. She could talk about how education creates opportunity for people to lift themselves out of poverty. She could talk about how eduction can open minds and hearts to people who are different. She can address the situation in a culturally respectful way. Or if she is unwilling to do that, she could do an interview in the US and talk about the situation and explain her struggle. I think it is important for her to speak out. She has asked us to care about Malawi. We now do, and what is happening to gay Malawians is just as unjust as what is happening to the poor in that country. How can we or Madonna stay silent?

  19. says

    I’m with the comment about going there. As Xtra! did in Uganda.

    As for Madonna, ask first what do the locals think. Would it be useful.

    The group supporting LGBT is Centre for the Development of People. They are not in the phone book but you can ask IGLHRC for it. They, I believe, have an office in New York …

  20. DH says

    Madonna USED to champion our causes, at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. Her current spiritual advisor, Rav Berg, has compared homosexuality to murder, something all those red bracelet-wearing twinks seem to overlook. I’d be very surprised if she spoke out now.

  21. greg2 says

    Not to be cynical,the school is a nice idea,but who/what will be teaching/taught in it?…missionaries from Rick Warrens’s Saddleback Church?….What is the curriculum for the school going to be? Tolerance and acceptance or more biblical oppression.Madonna has to know before the school is built what will be allowed to be taught.

  22. Michael says

    Madonna has done more for gay visibility in the last 28 years than any other major celebrity, and she didn’t have to pander to us to do it. Are you listening Cyndi Lauper?

    To say otherwise is to either be extremely young, jaded, or just full of shit. If anyone with half a brain thinks Lady Gaga lives, sleeps, and dreams gay rights, for anything other than savvy marketing, then people are way stupider than I thought. Her constant pandering to gays isn’t doing shit for your rights, or acceptance….but it is filling up her bank account.

    As far as Madonna goes, her trip to Malawi is about building a school there, and saving the lives of suffering children. How is that about her? Seems to me, people here just have a need to find something calculating in everything she does. I’m sure she feels the plight of the two gay men in prison is terrible, but what can she do about it? Why should she risk her projects, which have a major potential to change lives, over two gays in prison? They aren’t gonna release them because Madonna said so.

  23. Natt says

    DH, you’re right. Madonna was once a champion of gay causes, but her support began to wane as she became more involved with Kabbalah which, as you mentioned, is very disapproving of all things homo. She didn’t seen to mind being married to a gay-hater, either.

  24. sean says

    its funny how everyone of u has a different story about madonna. she is for gays, she is not for gays, who gives a fuck? its her life let her do what she wants with it! she doesn’t owe the gays anything. u could say she owes us because we buy her albums and tickets to her shows, but in exchange for the money we spend we get just that a fun show and some great music. that money doesn’t also buy an activist ready to put her life on the line for us. why doesn’t everyone stop blaming her for everything wrong with gay rights and go out and do something themselves. and also why just madonna? what about janet? what has she done for us lately? ha

  25. Murphy says

    The simple fact is Madonna uses people for her own ends, and lets face it gay rights are soooo early 90s. I don’t recall the last time she spoke up for gay causes. Its very sad. I doubt she would be where she is today were it not for her (blindly) loyal gay fan base. She SHOULD speak out against this injustice in Malawi. But she won’t.

  26. lorita says

    I can see you people have nothing better to do than commenting on our beautiful Malawi. Just concentrate on your orgies we have nothing to do with you. I already stated here that Malawi now depends on China. We do not need cursed money. Madonna has no business to do with us. Just ask her to return our two children. We do not benefit any support from her. Ask her for truth. All we see at the site she claims for be building school is just a small tent and nothing else. I invite all of you to visit our and see for yourselves if blacks mails in the name of withdrawing aid will change our minds. GO TO HELL.