Gay Malawi Couple Found Guilty of ‘Gross Indecency, Unnatural Acts’, Face 14 Years in Prison, Hard Labor


A judge has found Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, jailed in Malawi since late December after they had a public engagement ceremony, guilty of "gross indecency" and "unnatural acts". Since that time, the couple has been imprisoned except for brief, occasional visits to a courtroom during which they were ridiculed and mocked by homophobic mobs.

Their sentence is even more heartbreaking:

Couple_malawi "Blantyre chief resident magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa issued the ruling yesterday. The couple are facing up to 14 years in prison with hard labour after becoming the first gay couple in Malawi to publicly commit themselves to each other…Angry residents and relatives from Machinjiri township, on the outskirts of Blantyre, say they will not allow them to return home if they are set free.

A retired economist, Thindwa, added: "We are giving them moral support by bringing them food, money and clothes to prison."

The rule comes as a blow to gay rights movements across the continent, sparking fears that the ruling could be viewed as a test case and set an unwelcome precedent.

Peter Tatchell, the veteran British gay rights campaigner, told the Guardian last week he received a defiant message from Chimbalanga that said: 'I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.'

Monjeza – who is described as thin and weak with jaundiced eyes – told him: 'We have come a long way and even if our relatives are not happy, I will never stop loving Tiwonge.'"

Sentencing is set for Thursday.


  1. canddieinncdideinnc says

    What else can you expect from a group of brutal, superstitious, backward primitives–the equivalent of the American Taliban.

  2. Raven says

    Their economy is 40% foreign aid. Remove it until they are free. At best they might get a shorter sentance and will survive long enough to find a new home together. At worst their neighbors will be allowed to fade into extinction.

  3. CKNJ says

    African people that i know are not intrinsically homophobic… at worst a little malleable, which sadly allowed them to be molded by the American Taliban (ie these evil motherf*ckers called ‘fundamentalist christians’)… the result: loving couples get ostracized and imprisoned, where before they would more than likely have gone relatively unnoticed.

    I hope that the international community will sit up and take notice and take action. Sanctions against Malawi would be a good start… unfortunately it seems life will need to be made uncomfortable for those that blindly follow the homophobic churches and government before they will be swayed to change their minds!

  4. says

    (trying not to cry) Africa as a continent has so many problems brought on by slavery, exploitation, corruption, and greed. Even today there are outsiders ravaging many parts for their own gain. It might be too much to ask these impovershed nations to “get up to speed” on equality and fairness, but stories like this make me wish some sort of miracle could happen. I just wish there was something I could do.

  5. Mark says

    Does the 40% of foreign aid come from Madonna?

    Next time she writes a blog asking people to support building orphanages in Malawi gay people should post on her blog post and protest her support of this country–and her silence on this issue. Let them fund their own orphanages–if they have money for these kangaroo courts and to imprison innocent gay men then they must have the money themselves.

    It would be nice for Madonna to speak out on behalf of gay people beyond shout-outs at concerts, trying to be controversial/negative attention, or drumming up record sales. I know this might threaten her black baby supply and the Rainbow Tribe a la Josephine Baker she seems to be building, but her silence about this injustice makes her seem that much more indifferent and self-serving.

  6. Dan says

    Oh and Mark, you forgot using us as her cute little dancers, fag hags and giving us another shout out in trendy magazines with interviews done by trendy directors!

    Urgh, made me sick to see those gays fawning over here during that Interview magazine because she was talking about ‘way back when!’


  7. SFshawn says

    What a disgusting country.
    What a pathetic people.
    May their hatred and violence to their fellow man be returned back to them.
    Thoughts of peace to these men in love.

  8. patrick says

    malawi is actually quite a beautiful country with really amazing people. i lived outside blantyre in a small village for two years. i came out to many malawians, who still accepted and cared for me. i also worked with malawians to start a gay rights group that has done some positive work in malawi.
    it is sad to see this happening there, but i can understand why it is happening. just like we would not like for us as americans to be judged by the actions of bush and republicans, i think it is unfair to say horrible things about this country, for this one case.

  9. TANK says

    “it is sad to see this happening there, but i can understand why it is happening.”

    So you understand it…that seems like a bit of an excuse.

    And the majority of americans did vote for bush during his reelection, and ought be judged for that and the actions of bush. This is not some out of control minority persecuting these people in malawi…and you’re white and western, so of course you were treated differently by the natives who you came out to.

  10. says


    I’d like to know if the actions of one judge has the same reprecussions as it does here in the US. Meaning, if a case is brought to a judge in the US and he votes in favor, and a similar case is brought before a different judge the ruling of the first judge can be used as evidence in the second trial.

    Bottom line is I’m wondering if the ruling and sentencing of this couple in Malawi would influence other court rulings for other such people in Malawi, or if it’s a stand-alone case.

    If it’s stand alone, then hopefully the same outcome wouldn’t be repeated if a gay couple ever finds themselves in this unfortunate predicament again. However, if the ruling and sentencing influences what other judges might do then it’s certainly something we need to look at deeply and critically in our further international dealings with Malawi.

    And I agree. As much as I love me some Madonna, she either needs to make a statement about this horrible crime against humanity and the gays she proclaims to love so much or STFU.

  11. patrick says

    stephen, as far as i know, there has been a law against same-sex activity since the early 1900’s that was imposed by british rule. though, before this case, i don’t believe anyone has ever been tried on it.
    two of my friends left malawi for fear that they would be made into the example case, as they were being blackmailed by the police at the time. i do think this would effect future cases.
    there are a lot of changes happening there, as before 2004, i think the majority of malawi believed there was no homosexuality there, but in 2006 the national aids commission recognized the need and gave a grant to my friends to provide services to MSM.

  12. kriss says

    From the look on their faces, my heart goes out to them. I hope they realize the strength and courage they are showing to the world. to raise awareness and foster deeper, maybe the people of Malawi can show the same understanding as the people in Singapore for the basic human need to love and be loved.

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