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Watch: Malawians Speak Out in Defense of of Gay Couple


It's extremely heartening to see that Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the gay couple imprisoned in Malawi and recently sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labor, have defenders willing to openly speak out against the injustice and travesty of the conviction of these two young, innocent people.

The video also give us a look at the couple in court and the rowdy crowd outside it.


The sentence has been condemned by the UN: "Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said Monday that he would travel to Malawi this weekend where among other issues he will take up with President Bingu wa Mutharika is the 14-year jail sentence handed down to two homosexual men who held an engagement ceremony. Mr. Ban said the sentence violated human rights principles that ban both discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as the criminalization of sexual acts between consenting adults."

(via lgbt asylum news)


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  1. If Tiwonge identifies as a woman, does that make them still gay? As far as I have read, she is not gay, nor a man. She may look like it, but she identifies as a woman, lives as a woman and refers to herself as a woman.

    Have the Western news outlets simplified the matter to make it fit better with the gay marriage rights agenda? Probably.

    Posted by: Kian | May 25, 2010 1:09:25 PM

  2. Kian,

    Tiwonge's conviction isn't being served by the media, and quite frankly I doubt these people are able to make that distinction.

    Posted by: ♂ | May 25, 2010 1:31:16 PM

  3. Kian, identification goes out the window when they are subject to invasive procedures to determine what sex acts they've had if any. It is not simplified. The fact remains that they are being persecuted for their sexuality, percieved or not. You using pronouns doesn't make much difference in this case.

    Posted by: Willie | May 25, 2010 1:32:12 PM

  4. This video was heartening to see.

    Not sure what Kian's agenda is when referring to "the gay marriage rights agenda."

    Posted by: Laurie | May 25, 2010 1:50:30 PM

  5. " The fact remains that they are being persecuted for their sexuality, percieved or not."

    Yes but saying that a trans woman that she is a "man" is complete and utter disrespect despite what kind of charges cause it is.

    Towleroad and other LGBT blogs are enabling the mass media perpetuate this disprespect.

    And it's funny that you're that arrogant to try and tell trans people what's "really important" Your not the arbritor of what is important.

    Posted by: missanthrope | May 25, 2010 1:53:04 PM

  6. The intricacies of LBGTQ parlance are lost here, partially because of where geographically this story is coming from. Yes, they are both biologically male. Yes, one is transgender. As far as I know, they held their public engagement ceremony to declare their partnership as a same-sex couple. I don't think it's arrogant to describe their prosecution as being about their perceived sexuality, because that's what happened. Over there, I suspect that gay = transgender = queer = other "bad" things.

    Posted by: Laurie | May 25, 2010 2:02:08 PM

  7. "I don't think it's arrogant to describe their prosecution as being about their perceived sexuality, because that's what happened. Over there, I suspect that gay = transgender = queer = other "bad" things."

    It's not arrogant to say that their prosecuation is sexually motivated.

    However, it is arrogant to say that she is a "man" for it to fit in to a equal marriage when she has gone on the record several times saying that she identifies as a woman.

    If has said that she was gay, that wouldn't have been contested, people would have taken her for her word.

    But because it is about her gender and people find transgender issues "confusing", it's all up to debate in this case.

    She says she's a woman, then she's a woman. It's not "confusing" (as I have heard others say, not you btw), it's pretty simple in fact. She lived as a woman in her mothers village, that should count for more than one wedding ceremony. All that people are asking that people respect her identity.

    Posted by: missanthrope | May 25, 2010 2:47:24 PM

  8. It doesn't matter what you think Missanthrope. She has a dick and therefore is seen as a man.

    Life sucks but alas it is what it is, unless you can come to SOME Western countries and call yourself a women because you feel like a women and not like a man who you physically are.

    Maybe YOU should write to the UN? Gay news? Peter Thatchell? Actually Peter Thatchell checks his tweets and would get back to you.

    Posted by: Rowan | May 25, 2010 2:53:06 PM

  9. Well its nice to see these young men have OPEN supporters there advocating for their human rights. I also think the UN secretary general visiting and condemning this atrocity will carry some weight.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | May 25, 2010 2:55:20 PM

  10. It's nice to know there are some sane people who are there fighting against this disturbing conviction.

    Posted by: KFLO | May 25, 2010 3:02:59 PM

  11. It is not our right to call them gay, if they do not identify as such. The gay marriage agenda wants it be about gay marriage, because they held a wedding ceremony. However, this case is so much more complicated than saying that they are biologically male, or that they both have penises and therefore they had a gay wedding.

    She is too poor to have access to medical transition. Why is no one talking about her rights as a trans woman to determine her body?

    To simplify the entire matter to make it easier for folks to understand does a disservice to gay and trans people alike. To gays who disagree with me, do you really want them to be the poster childs of marriage rights if one of them doesn't identity as a man? If we saved them from persecution somehow, brought them here, gave her access to hormones and surgery to let her transition, would you still want her to be your "gay poster child". I'm not saying that we shouldn't be helping them or that I'm against gay marriage (I'm gay and trans). We need to look past our own needs and do what's right for them and if that means respecting their identities, then we should be doing that. If we don't, then it's no longer about them, it becomes about us and that, in my opinion, is arrogant and selfish.

    Posted by: Kian | May 25, 2010 4:07:01 PM

  12. Disgruntled tranny in Aisle 3.

    Jeezus, I don't know anyone who thinks this issue is about gay marriage. Everyone just wants these two people (men, women, married, coupled, WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK?) freed from persecution and restored their dignity and basic human rights. Stop forcing your silly pronoun hangups on them. The only agenda here is yours.

    Posted by: crispy | May 25, 2010 4:21:00 PM

  13. Kian, don't bother with the white gay males on this site. They only get and care about their issues.

    Posted by: sugarrhill | May 25, 2010 5:54:09 PM

  14. It's not a racial issue...and lets not complicate the matter with putting our AMERICAN or other national/regional system for labeling people as transgendered, gay, man, woman, whatever, on these two guys. The fact is, this could easily be US if we so happened to be born in that country. We need to fight for these guys; that is the main crux of the issue.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | May 25, 2010 9:39:46 PM


    Hi Karen

    Yes, you’re not the first person to bring this up.

    It is an issue that I have pursued from the outset but unsuccessfully to date.

    The lawyers for Tiwonge have not been clear on this matter either.

    Tiwonge has not stated clearly to my contacts in Malawi how he/she wants to be referred to.

    I have arranged Malawian prison visitors for the last four months. I have got them to ask Tiwonge about his/her gender identity but the answers are unclear.

    I will get them to keep asking.

    It would be wrong to refer to Tiwonge as ’she’ and ‘transgender’ unless we have express

    instructions / permission to do so from Tiwonge.

    In the meantime, in my statements I have avoided labels like ‘gay’ and ‘he’; although I have referred to them as men as this is what they are legally, biologically and in terms of this prosecution.

    Although they have been convicted of homosexuality, I suggest that we do not refer to Steven and Tiwonge as a ‘gay couple’ until these issues are clarified.

    I realise that this is not very satisfactory and I am trying to resolve it by pressing the prison visitors to ask these questions once more.

    Currently, there is a measles outbreak in the jail, so last weekend’s prison visitors were not allowed to speak to S and T (only to hand them food parcels). The good news is that despite the very harsh 14-year sentence both men seemed cheerful and positive.

    Tiwonge has seen parts / some of my news releases and raised no objections to the way I have described him/her. I would have altered the wording if this had been requested.

    I agree that we need to clarify the trans issue. I am trying to do so.

    However, the number one priority is to support Steven and Tiwonge in prison, assist with their appeal to the High Court and mobilise an international campaign for their release.

    All other issues are lesser priorities; although we do need to be respectful of Tiwonge’s gender identity and establish this clearly and publicly asap.


    Best wishes, Peter

    From Outrage, here’s how you can help:

    Send a letter or postcard of support to Steven and Tiwonge. In this difficult time, they need to know that people around the world love and support them. Get all your friends to do the same. Write to:

    Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, Prisoners, Chichiri Prison,
P.O.Box 30117, Chichiri, Blantyre 3, Malawi

    Make a donation by post or BACS electronic transfer to the Malawi Defence Campaign, organised the UK-based LGBT organisation OutRage!

    OutRage! will use all money donated to support Tiwonge and Steven with food parcels, medicine, clothes, blankets etc. and to help fund the campaign for their release.

    By BACS electronic transfer:
Account name: OutRage
Bank: Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank, Bootle, Merseyside, GIR
0AA, England, UK
Account number: 77809302
Sort code: 72-00-01
For electronic transfers from overseas (outside the UK), please 
ADDITIONALLY quote these codes:
IBAN: GB65ALE1720001778093 02

    By cheque:
Write a cheque payable to ?OutRage!? and send to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT. Enclose a note giving your name and address and stating that your donation is for the Malawi Defence campaign.

    Posted by: paul canning | May 25, 2010 11:23:41 PM

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