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. If there was ever a time in your life you thought you may one day pray for someone pray for these two men....

    They need the strength and will to continue. If there is ONE cause, ONE course of action and ONE issue that may just unite us as a community THIS is that issue....

    Some here say well thank God it's not me, but what if it were you? What if it were your boyfriend, your partner, your husband, an uncle, or father?

    People, if there ever was a time to reunite from the fractured elitists who have hijacked OUR movement, OUR voice, and OUR cause now is the time to do so....

    NO more complacency, no more just phoning your Senator and hoping they care (because they don't) it is time WE take to the streets of the Castro, Santa Monica BLVD, Broadway, and every single place where we are and FORCE sanctions against this hate filled country...

    You think this is bad? Wait until the Uganda Kill The Gays Bill is passed... Then you will see a revival of what the Holocaust was like for us 65 years ago...

    Mark my words there will be Pink Triangles amongst our Gay brothers and sisters soon in Africa....

    If you have a voice, if you can write, if you can do ANYTHING it is time the US's TAKE back our movement from those who could care less about your rights, and your Freedom's.

    No more to backward sleazeball politicians, gay elitist's who's idea of a protest is a lavish cocktail party, no to the luke warm charlatans who play our heartstrings until they pluck every last dime out of us ENOUGH!

    Grab a Bullhorn, a sign, and goddamnit make a stand for once!!

    Posted by: Jason | May 21, 2010 3:45:49 AM

  2. Wow...Ok,i get how countries don't like outside countries to interfere in there laws and such...but this is very different then say the IRAN debacle...this is imprisoning innocent people for loving.If they feel so strong in there views, just exile them to another country where they can live there lives in peace.I mean really people, this is 2010. we really should have more tolerance and understanding.

    Posted by: Marcel | May 21, 2010 8:06:24 AM

  3. Stop feeding the troll, people, jeez.

    Who is the danger to society, two gay men or a government whose beliefs belong in the dark ages, not the 21s century?

    I hope with all my heart they get those poor guys out of jail.

    (Thanks Gaylib for the email address.)

    Posted by: Harry | May 25, 2010 1:56:35 AM

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