Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga Freed

What great news to wake up to this morning.

Malawai President Bingu wa Mutharika has officially pardoned Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the gay couple who had been sentenced earlier this month to 14 years of hard labor under sodomy and indecency laws. You may remember that they were originally arrested after holding a public wedding ceremony in December.

President wa Mutharika clearly bowed to mounting pressure. His statement, according to the Daily Telegraph:

"These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws, however, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions. I have done this on humanitarian grounds but this does not mean that I support this."


White House Presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs has just released a statement about today's pardon:

"The White House is pleased to learn of President Bingu wa Mutharika's pardon of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. These individuals were not criminals and their struggle is not unique. We must all recommit ourselves to ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity. We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe."

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  1. Great! They should be allowed to have a happy life together. From one Gay Male to others; I'm proud of their courage!

    Posted by: SteveO | May 29, 2010 1:24:17 PM

  2. I cried when I read this this morning. I've spent the last week avoiding the story because it was too sad for me to think about.

    Thanks to Ban Ki-moon for making this happen, he made this happen

    Posted by: Mike C. | May 29, 2010 1:32:35 PM

  3. I’m glad for them. BUT by the president words you can clearly understand that this mean that gays will still be prosecuted and there is no intention of changing the law, and it’s gonna be difficult for others to incite international attention. So this is nothing but the beginning of a long fight, if anything.

    Posted by: Lexxvs | May 29, 2010 1:39:19 PM

  4. Great news! Maybe Tiwonge can go back to her life as a woman now that she has been freed from jail. Somehow I doubt that she will be able to now that everyone thinks she is a gay man.

    Posted by: Kian | May 29, 2010 1:58:20 PM

  5. You're so raven, kian. I mean radical... It's offensive, to you, to be mistaken for gay when you're transgender, just as it's offensive to be mistaken for transgender when you're gay...because sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender identity. Agreed.

    I'm still waiting for all of those radicals to descend and condemn this as another example of colonialism, exporting our values to another country...where are those crazy people? Oh, that's right, consistency doesn't matter to them.

    Posted by: TANK | May 29, 2010 2:11:05 PM

  6. I hear HRC is going to throw a Cocktails for Malawi party to celebrate this good news. Expect lots of money to be raised from concerned professional white people and their social climbing younger dates. Fun!

    Posted by: Pinky | May 29, 2010 2:11:16 PM

  7. true.

    Posted by: TANK | May 29, 2010 2:12:59 PM

  8. The best news of the day! I'm so happy beyond words right now. Hopefully they'll find a place where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace and happiness.

    Posted by: Stephen | May 29, 2010 2:30:50 PM

  9. Amazing news! May these two live a long a happy life together.

    Posted by: ichabod | May 29, 2010 3:16:15 PM

  10. I'm so happy!!!

    Posted by: artsenyc | May 29, 2010 3:18:22 PM

  11. Almost cried! All the best for them.

    Posted by: Felix | May 29, 2010 3:24:39 PM

  12. Now, that old whore Madonna could adopt them. She has no talent--can't dance, can't sing, can't act, so she has to steal two babies from their loving families. I hope she kills herself and leaves the pop world to the KING OF POP, Michael Jackson

    Posted by: MJrules | May 29, 2010 3:58:31 PM

  13. The story of these two men has worried me for the past several weeks. Their lives have been turned into a spectacle and their love has been demonized by their society. I've been really pissed off about the hate and intolerance that would lead to the imprisonment of these guys. I'm relieved to hear they've been freed, but I'm still concerned for their safety. Just because they're out of jail doesn't mean they're safe. More needs to be done.

    Posted by: Ty | May 29, 2010 4:32:49 PM

  14. Praise Allah! This is spectacular. I fear for them in that country but it is fantastic that they are free!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: dc20008 | May 29, 2010 5:54:50 PM

  15. I would bet that President Bingu wa Mutharika is more afraid of losing any amount of foreign aid Malawai gets than keeping both Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in prison.

    Wasn't it Russia that publicly denounced the actions and against their aid policy?
    So I'm not impressed with the pardon... ecstatically happy yes, impressed, no.

    And wasn't it Tiwonge who made comment in prison that if freed he wants to leave Malawai? I agree that Malawai might be to toxic for them anymore.

    And there are gay-friendly areas in Africa. It's not like they would have to leave their beloved Africa and be so far from family and friends.

    I just wish them all the best and not become 'abandoned' now that all the hype will die down.

    Posted by: aleabeth | May 29, 2010 6:09:58 PM


    Anyone ever see "To Kill A Mockingbird"? The guy was found not guilty, but bigots murdered him anyway. I'll be happy to donate to help these guys get out - alive - and start over elsewhere.

    Posted by: Justin Normand | May 29, 2010 9:46:05 PM

  17. I read this blog 3 times to see if maybe, possibly, I missed something about Tiwonge's gender. But I didn't find anything, but you guys did mention them being a "gay couple"! Great. I love how Robert Gibbs can mention gender identity but a gay blog can't.

    Yay trans erasure!

    Tiwonge identifies as a female. Physical appearance aside, please respect HER identity.

    Posted by: FFFFFFFF | May 29, 2010 10:14:53 PM

  18. A phrase I haven't muttered in years, but somehow seems appropriate...... THANK GOD! My hearts and all the good vibes I can muster go out to these two. May we all find the strength to be able to stand up for ourselves in the face of such adversity. They are an inspiration the world over.

    Posted by: Blain Rushing | May 30, 2010 6:09:19 AM

  19. It is truly a great thing that they have been relseased, sadly I expect the next time we hear of them they will have been beaten to death. I wish them all the luck in the world.

    Posted by: Nate G | May 30, 2010 7:53:57 AM

  20. RUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNN!!!! Pressure helped them , but what happens to them when they are no longer front page. Someone needs to keep an eye on them or at least get them to a country where they can live.

    Posted by: yaaah69 | May 30, 2010 10:01:54 AM

  21. I'm happy that their freed but something like this should never have happened in the first place.

    Posted by: Dawnell_do | May 30, 2010 10:30:22 AM

  22. frankly speaking, bingu wa mutharika was under pressure. Had it been i was the president, i would have done the same thing. You malawi it time for you to wake up!!! you have to learn how to sustain yourself. Independence means you can do without the help of donors unless otherwise. The qeustion is: "where is that indepence we are caliming that we have?" i feel sorry for you malawi. Anyway, lets just leave it in the hands of the Lord, if it is the will of God, He is the one who cam control it.No Gays not funds!!!! hahahahahaha!!!!!! it funny!!!!!

    Posted by: frank | May 31, 2010 2:56:46 AM

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