Malawi | News

Malawi Gay Couple Sentenced to Maximum 14 Years in Prison, Hard Labor, for Holding Public Engagement Ceremony



Malawi's gay couple, humiliated publicly and jailed since December for holding a public engagement ceremony declaring their love to one another, have been given the maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with hard labor — to "protect" Malawian society.

Nation Bloomberg reports: "Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were sentenced by Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa today in a court in the commercial capital, Blantyre. 'I am giving you a scary sentence so that the public must be protected,' Usiwa said. 'Malawi society is not ready to see its sons marrying other sons, nor daughters marrying daughters.' Chimbalanga, popularly known in the country as Aunt Tiwo, was composed while being sentenced, while Monjeza broke down in tears before being escorted to an awaiting police vehicle."

Monjeza and Chimbalanga were convicted of "gross indecency" and "unnatural acts" earlier in the week (I repeat — for holding a ceremony declaring their love to one another)

The BBC adds: "Defence lawyer Mauya Msuku had argued for a lighter sentence, pointing out that the pair's actions had not victimised anyone. "Unlike in a rape case, there was no complainant or victim in this case," he said after the pair were convicted on Tuesday. "Here are two consenting adults doing their thing in private. Nobody will be threatened or offended if they are released into society." Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International, called the sentence "an outrage", reports the AP news agency. She described the pair as "prisoners of conscience" and said Amnesty would continue to campaign for them to be freed."

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Dept. said it was "deeply disappointed" in the conviction.

Three UK Ministers, Henry Bellingham, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Stephen O'Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, and Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equality at the Home Office, have called for a Human Rights review of Malawi following the sentencing, saying

“We are deeply dismayed by the conviction for buggery and indecent practices of Mr Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Mr Steven Monjeza. We are also very concerned by the allegations of their mistreatment in police custody. Malawi has made significant progress on human rights in recent years. The government has signed up to international human rights treaties and Malawi’s constitution protects the rights of all its citizens. Infringement of these rights is intolerable. The conviction and sentencing to the maximum 14 years’ imprisonment of Mr Chimbalanga and Mr Monjeza, runs counter to a positive trend. “Britain has a close and strong partnership with Malawi and it is in this spirit that we raise our concerns. The UK believes that human rights apply to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The UK urges the Government of Malawi to review its laws to ensure the defence of human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds. The UK, along with our international partners, will continue to press the Government of Malawi on this issue."

Watch CNN's report from earlier this week on their conviction, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Everyone, take two minutes, now, and write an e-mail to your congressional representatives and tell them to press for sanctions against Malawi and stop all aid. This is inhuman.

    Posted by: canddieinncdideinnc | May 20, 2010 7:29:22 AM

  2. What does a place like this contribute to the world? They already have nothing going for them - now the world will continue to know it as a incredibly repulsive place. I have no desire to visit Africa.

    Posted by: KFLO | May 20, 2010 7:52:13 AM

  3. Maybe Madonna should change her charity's organization's name from "Raising Malawi" to "Fuck Malawi" because I doubt any gay man or woman will be giving any type of donation to that charity in the near future.

    Posted by: Paul | May 20, 2010 8:06:28 AM

  4. Mia Kirsher from "The L Word" wrote a great piece for Huffington Post on these guys. What I want to know, similar to Paul is, where the FUCK is Madonna in all this? Is she scared they'll cut off her baby supply if she makes any noise about it? I'm as disgusted by her as I am this case. This is the time when she can really make a difference. She has made Malawi her pet project for close to a decade now. How she can sit quiet for this, I have no idea.

    Posted by: jefferson | May 20, 2010 8:17:26 AM

  5. We do not care what westerners say at this moment. Leave us malawians alone, we are a sovereign state. Fuck westerners. This is not colonial times to listen to you. We do not want the silly comments from any country. Do you think all of us malawian citizen survive on Madonna or your aid. Shut up please. there is no room for homosexuals here. MALAWIAN

    Posted by: lorita | May 20, 2010 8:20:58 AM

  6. Oscar Wilde spent 2 years in Redding jail, hard labor, for this same crime. It is heartbreaking to see this injustice!

    Posted by: candideinnc | May 20, 2010 8:23:13 AM

  7. I have a sick pit in my stomach when I read about this case and these gentlemen. What is worse is that, if they were women, they would have just been kicked to the dirt and raped.

    How much longer supposed "enlightened" countries like ours, UK, etc... stand back and shrug?

    June is generally Gay Pride month here in the US. Why not do... something? From organizing petitions at your regional pride events to something as simple as lighting a candle in church and asking your fellow congregates to pray. Do... something. We have to keep Stephen and Tiwange in our thoughts.

    Posted by: Rad | May 20, 2010 8:25:03 AM

  8. MALAWIAN (decent ones) should also take a minute, and march to our members of parliament to ask for death sentences for any one caught in silly, degrading and dirty acts like homosexuality.

    Posted by: lorita | May 20, 2010 8:30:08 AM

  9. Lorita - do you honestly think it's right, in the 21st Century, to imprison two people whose only crime is to love each other? They haven't done any harm to anybody, and clearly just wanted the freedom to be together. Shame on your country for denying them that simple HUMAN RIGHT, and shame on you personally for supporting that decision.

    It said a lot that you consider basic fairness and tolerance for your fellow man to be an issue of other countries interfering, rather than simply other human beings being absolutely horrified (which is what it is, nothing more).

    Posted by: Chris | May 20, 2010 8:30:10 AM

  10. Chris--

    Lorita is beyond shame. She is one of the bleating sheep who follow their primitive religions to their barbaric conclusions. Her only uniqueness is that she uses anticolonialism to defend her superstition and homophobia (which, ironically, were taught the Africans by their colonial "masters").

    Lorita, I don't give a damn about you or your backward country. The two young men who you are persecuting are the only thing worthy of attention here.

    Posted by: candideinnc | May 20, 2010 8:39:25 AM

  11. This horrific incident is the apex of inhumanity and pure hatred in its ugliest form. Sad to say the entire world needs to review what is in their hearts and minds and correct this injustice that is so prevalent all over the world in so many various forms. I believe homophobia exists on so many levels in this world and in the USA that a revolution against hate must begin. Our effort to change are not nearly strong enough.

    From parents who must teach their children from the beginning that hate is wrong to Hollywood producers and directors who continue to create unflattering and stereotypical gay characters. The battle must intensify to change the thinking of the world.

    Posted by: Max F. Grump | May 20, 2010 8:48:54 AM

  12. No Lorita, FUCK YOU and all Malawians who support this atrocity. You are nothing but savages, percursors to Astralopithecus Sediba. The Human Race will continue to evolve and your kind will be nothing more than fossil artifacts.

    Posted by: bading | May 20, 2010 8:49:32 AM

  13. This is an awful case, and stems in part from the impact of so-called Christian missionaries on African societies.

    While Lorita is just homophobic, we should distinguish between Malawi and comments about "Africa" (which is a continent), so comment like KFLO's are somwhat wide of the mark - in light of Arizona's immigration law, it's like saying I wouldn't visit the USA. Africa is a diverse continent, so don't tar it all with the same brush.

    I hope the Obama administration will do much more than express disappointment...

    Posted by: Sean R | May 20, 2010 8:58:01 AM

  14. You say shame on my country (Malawi) but I say shame on Europeans and Americans for trying to impose a lifestyle on us. When you say Malawi is using an old colonial act, are you not the same colonialists that came to draw these acts in our books, was Christianity not introduced by the same colonialists who are now trying to reverse it and convert us into satanism. Do you want to imprison Malawi in the name of aid, so that we can dance to the tune of homosexuality. To hell with all of you supporters of Aunt Tiwo. They are going to rot in our prisons. Any one is free come and adopt the homosexuals the way Madonna adopted the girls, or just give them assylum. Otherwise we are asking our government to change this colonial law into a death sentence.

    Posted by: lorita | May 20, 2010 9:31:04 AM

  15. Lorita, get the fuck out of this country if Malawi is so great. Can we please get her disgusting bigoted comments off this website ASAP?

    Posted by: Laurie | May 20, 2010 9:32:59 AM

  16. Malawi economy is 40% foreign aid--drop that and we'll see how fast we see Lorita and her family in her hut cuddled up next to Sally Struthers on a Save the Children infomerical.

    I can't wait til Madonna writes another Help Malawi blog post. Gay people should blast her for it--I know I will. Why we gay folks let her off the hook in exchange for a few shiny musical beads is beyond me. And if Malawi has enough money for these kangaroo courts and to imprison innocent gay men then let them pay for their own damn orphanages.

    Posted by: Mark | May 20, 2010 9:36:42 AM

  17. LAURIE

    Lorita doesn't care whether her comments are taken off or not. At least I have achieved my goal. to tell you westerners to go to hell and stop commenting on Malawian issues. for your information Lorita is home and try - writing all the way from Malawi. Lorita is a working class business lady who doesn't depend on western aid. GET LOST LAURIE. If you really believe in democracy and freedoms. Why do you want my comments to be erased. TO HELL WITH HOMOSEXUALS

    Posted by: lorita | May 20, 2010 9:50:48 AM

  18. I guess "buggery" is equivalent to "sodomy"? I always thought it had a disparaging connotation.

    Posted by: Paul R | May 20, 2010 9:51:14 AM

  19. No more comments from Lorita. bye all

    Posted by: lorita | May 20, 2010 9:53:02 AM

  20. good riddance to evil rubbish...

    Posted by: jack | May 20, 2010 9:59:22 AM

  21. Lorita is an animal who doesn't deserve to be dignified with a response. Leave her to wallow in her ugliness and hate, but don't encourage her. She is pitiful and I feel sorry for her. If you really want to vent, call someone who matters, like the Malawi embassy in Washington. Their phone no is 202-721-0270 or email them at Lorita is nothing, save your outrage for the people who continue to barbarically beat down our gay brothers and sisters with one hand while holding the other one extended towards "the west" for a handout. They have NO shame.

    Posted by: gaylib | May 20, 2010 10:00:43 AM

  22. Lorita doesn't actually exist.....her English is too good for someone from me I know Malawians.
    Hey Lorita.........your silly devils advocate crap talk really isn't appropriate in this context where such a very sad case of inhumanity is'd be the same as joking about the concentration camps to a Jew who had lost their family in that apologise and do the right thing.

    Posted by: DavidW | May 20, 2010 10:03:00 AM

  23. and here's an email directly to the malawian ambassador:

    Posted by: gaylib | May 20, 2010 10:03:30 AM

  24. JACK Lorita is back to tell you to shut up. No more comments about Malawi and Lorita pse. We do not need you. what is is nonsense about aid, aid aid, we get our aid from China. and remember Madonna had to persuade courts with her appeals for her to get our children out. Please respect us you westerners. Ndisiyeni ndi lankhule zakukhosi kwanga. Job 10 vs 10

    Posted by: lorita | May 20, 2010 10:12:27 AM

  25. Oooohh, she's baacck! Enjoying all the attention from the evil gays!!!

    Posted by: Laurie | May 20, 2010 10:19:07 AM

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