Malawian Jailed For 2010 Gay Wedding: ‘I Have No Regrets’


As Americans in Washington state celebrate same-sex marriage and UK lawmakers work toward equality there, hundreds of thousands of LGBT people still live in fear, many of them in African nations like Malawi, where Tiwonge Chimbalanga (pictured, right) and then-husband Steven Monjeza were sentenced in 2010 to 14 years in prison for getting married.

A massive, global outcry and the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led late Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika to pardon them.

Chimbalanga, no longer with Monjeza, is living as a woman in South Africa, and recently sat down with AFP for her first interview since her marriage started an international incident:

“I don’t have any regrets, I didn’t
do anything wrong,” Chimbalanga, who identifies as a transgender woman
despite being tried as a gay man, told AFP.

I had mixed feelings because on
the one hand I felt it was a wonderful thing for me to do a normal, natural
thing like getting married, whilst on the other hand it was very painful,”
said Chimbalanga.

“I was beaten in prison. During the
trial the security guards ill-treated me. I was verbally abused and suffered
all sorts of inhumane treatments, I have scars from the beatings. Yet I felt
good that I was able to do what I wanted to do.”

Chimbalanga says in Malawi there are two sets of human rights, one for the rich and one for the poor.

“I want everyone to have their
human rights and freedom to choose what they want to be and the only way to
achieve that is by coming out and claiming their rights,” she said.

She also said she plans on marrying again in South Africa, “Even here in South Africa I want to get married and I am going to invite the reporters from Malawi to come and witness for themselves and to report the truth about it. I want the whole world to know because this is not the end.”


  1. ratbastard says

    She is correct; there is one for the well off and connected, one for the ‘middle class’ and one for the poor and non-connected. This is in many true in every society in the the world, but especially true in 3rd world countries with a small well off elite and a mass of poor.

  2. simon says

    Was she a man at the time of marriage? When she gets married in the future, it is no longer a gay marriage, it will be a marriage by a transgender person. The Malawi government should be happy for her because she has “turned straight” assuming she is going to marry a “straight” man.

  3. says

    every gay man and woman in North America and Britain should be humbled by this.

    look at the strength and resilience and outright Bravery of these people. in the face of actual criminal charges….for simply being.

    all the hate, put into law, and yet there are still people in these countries who Come Out, and take a public stand for what is right.

    facing jail time, facing death, and yet they refuse to cower.

    and then over here in north america we have grown adult closet cases who choose, instead, to write about how much they hate liberals and lady gaga. excuse me while i puke.

  4. GregV says

    Tiwonge is a very brave person.
    I know it is hard to look at the photo with that “butch” haircut and flat chest and see the female identity underneath, but it seems to me that the headline fails to honor her prefered identity (instead keeping with the Malawi government’s official classification of the marriage as being between people of the SAME sex.
    I am left wondering: if this marriage had actually been a “gay” one between two men or between two women whose identities are consistent with their physical gender status (or if Tiwonge had already fully transitioned and at least “looked like” a bride to the government’s nosy, prying eyes), would their treatment have been less harsh, worse or the same?

  5. Caliban says

    @GregV, it isn’t difficult in the least for me to appreciate Tiwonge’s gender.

    I grew up in the semi-rural South and I still have vivid memories of 3 classmates who, in retrospect, I suspect were transgender. Surely I wasn’t the only one who went to school with boys-who-were-girls and vice versa. From day one.

    I don’t really “get” it, but I figured out a long time ago that my “getting” something has f*ck-all to do with reality. Straight people don’t get homosexual attraction, for instance, yet it still exists.

  6. ratbastard says

    STFU Lil’ Canadian. You’re an obnoxious, know it all bully and the most egregious troll on here. And probably a spoiled brat. You come from a upper middle class family, Lil’ Canadian? This would explain a lot.

  7. says

    Malawians and Ugandans still find the strength to come out, and defiantly live Out.

    what’s your excuse? You come from the land of the free and the home of the brave. so why so cowardly?

  8. Paul says

    How crazy does that sound, jailed for getting married? With all the criminals out there who need to be arrested and put in jail for real crimes and yet a person who has committed no crime but wanted to be married to the one he loves is put in jail, that is just plain crazy. Why are the law enforcement people going along with that kind of madness? Are they influenced by the anti-gay Christians who want to kill and murder gays for wanting to love one another?