Gay Couple Gets Maximum Prison Term, Sentenced To 14 Years Behind Bars In Malawi

- By Bossip Staff

Malawi’s first openly gay couple was ordered to serve a 14-year jail term, the maximum punishment allowed under a law that forbids homosexuality in the country. Details on the flipside

A judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison with hard labor under Malawi’s anti-gay legislation, and crowds jeered the two men as they were driven from the court house to jail Thursday.

The harsh sentence for unnatural acts and gross indecency had been expected after the same judge convicted Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza earlier this week under laws dating from the colonial era. The case has drawn international condemnation and sparked a debate on human rights in this conservative southern African country.

Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner were arrested Dec. 27, the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked — an apparent first in Malawi.

“Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases,” Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa said as he delivered his sentence. “We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies.”

The lawyer for the two, Mauya Msuku, said they would appeal.

Chimbalanga remained composed as armed police officers handcuffed him to Monjeza.

“I am not worried,” he told reporters as they were taken to a police vehicle.

Monjeza broke down upon hearing the ruling and was still sobbing as he was helped into the van.

Hundreds of onlookers inside and outside the court house showed little sympathy. There were shouts of “You got what you deserve!” and “Fourteen years is not enough, they should get 50!”

Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International called the sentence “an outrage.”

Her rights watchdog has adopted Chimbalanga and Monjeza as prisoners of conscience, and would “continue to campaign on this matter and to work tirelessly to see that they are released unconditionally as soon as possible,” Kagari told The Associated Press by telephone from her office in Kampala, Uganda.

Mark Heywood, director of the South Africa-based AIDS Law Project called the sentence “outrageous and a violation of human rights.” He said activists should hold protests around the world against Malawi.

In a joint statement issued in London Thursday, lawmakers Henry Bellingham, Stephen O’Brien and Lynne Featherstone urged Malawi government to review its laws to ensure human rights were protected.

They said their country “believes that human rights apply to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” and would, with its international partners, “continue to press the Government of Malawi on this issue.”

In Washington, Philip Crowley, an assistant secretary of state, expressed his country’s deep disappointment with the conviction of Chimbalanga and Monjeza.

“We view the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity as a step backward in the protection of human rights in Malawi,” Crowley said.

Malawi’s government has been defiant in the face of international criticism over the couple’s prosecution.

Betsy Chirambo, an adviser to President Bingu wa Mutharika, expressed concern over calls by some activists for the West to withdraw aid to Malawi because of the case. Up to 40 percent of Malawi’s development budget comes from foreign donors.

“It is not our culture for a man to marry a man,” Chirambo said this week. “That is not even in our constitution. Some of these rights are not good for our culture.”

The government has been backed by religious leaders in the country who have equated homosexuality with Satanism.

But the debate also has emboldened some rights activists in the southern African country. The independent Centre for the Development of People was recently formed by Malawians to fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities.

Gift Trapence, executive director of the Centre for the Development of People, was at the court house Thursday and told reporters: “How can they get 14 years simply for loving one another? Even if they are jailed for 20 years you can’t change their sexuality.”

This should come as little surprise. Things are rough for gays in the US — but Africa is no joke. Remember the dead man they dug up in Senegal last month???

Human rights clearly aren’t the same everywhere — it’s absolutely extreme to rob these men of their freedom because of their decision to be openly gay. At the same time, cultural taboos against homosexuality have deep roots in many of these African nations and just because leadership in the Western world wants things to change — doesn’t mean the changes can be forced.

We wonder if the Western world will eventually turn to the same kind of trade embargoes that were used to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Do you think that’s what’s needed??? Or should we butt out of other countries’ laws?

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Comments

  • Reality

    The don’t play in the motherland lol.

  • Reality

    Uninformed Greek brainwashed ne.iigroes in 3.2.1 supporting western moral deterioation commence.

  • BigD

    I think this is absolutely terrible! No one should be able to put you in jail because of who you love.

  • THE SMOKIN' SECTION

    They’ll never make it outta jail alive…

  • drenk

    cant a gay friendly country like switzerland offer them asylum?

  • Yeayea

    Yea its pretty sad that this is what has become of these two individuals, but I do believe that cultral differences are rooted deeper than many people think. Basic humans rights are outlined by the demand of that nation, and its evident that many African countries do not see ‘freedom of expression’ concerning sexuality as a basic right when they have so many things ontheir plate. I think ‘the West’ has other injustices and unlawfull behaviours happening within their own walls to worry about than medelling in the affairs of other cultures that they cannot even begin to comprehend.

  • aqueenwaits

    The US needs to implement the same type of law EXCEPT to offer them some type of rehabilitation/therapy. They could quite possibly end up becoming fresh meat in jail.

  • cruzan trini

    Okay, if you know you are doing something illegal, then why would you do it out in the open. That is like robbing a bank with no mask on.

    Although I don’t agree with imprisoning people on the basis of their sexuality. I don’t agree with stupidity either. Based on what they did, now they really won’t be together for a long time.

  • ReALiSt AKA ReALeSt (FiRsT tHeY LoVeD mE..NoW tHeY hAtE mE!! HaTe Is Da NeW LoVe!!!)

    Homosexuality is greek and foreign to the African mind!!

  • getting down

    At least some countries still believe in THE NATURAL union of MALE AND FEMALE.

    I said it once and I’ll say it again…..When animals feel the need to mate, a male animal seeks out a female animal and vice verse.

    You NEVER hear of a male lion seeking out another male lion to mate with…WHY?…Because it is not NATURAL!

  • drenk

    You NEVER hear of a male lion seeking out another male lion to mate with…WHY?…Because it is not NATURAL!
    ———————————

    but you do hear of female bonobo’s bumping uglies with other female bonobo’s

  • drenk

    b.o.n.o.b.o.’s

  • cruzan trini

    aqueenwaits
    5/20/10, 14:29:pm
    The US needs to implement the same type of law EXCEPT to offer them some type of rehabilitation/therapy.
    ———————————
    Really? This is supposed to be the land of the free. We have no room in our prisons for nonsense. Every adult has a right to be with any other adult.

    Do you believe it is possible to change someone from being gay to straight? I think it is possible in some cases, but not all. Homosexuality is natural for some. There are homosexual animals you know?

  • Reality

    @ ReALiSt AKA ReALeSt (FiRsT tHeY LoVeD mE..NoW tHeY hAtE mE!! HaTe Is Da NeW LoVe!!!) what’s up? Preach on, I await Nubian kings take on this one too.

    As for ” Reality ” I am a firm believer in PUNANI 🙂

  • cruzan trini

    @ drenk
    Lions do engage in homosexuality. Plenty of animals engage in bisexual and homosexual acts.

    With that said, do you still think it is unnatural now?

  • truetalk

    keep the poufs out of Africa! Embargo all you want… peenus in the anus of another man is abnormal!

  • aqueensworstnightmare

    @ aqueenswaits, you clearly need some rehabilitation/therapy if you think that this isht would fly in the US. You probably walking around with two or three kids out of wedlock, fornicating/f*cking 90 mph going north, but you want to try to condemn someone else for their sexual actions. GTFOH! HO

  • CAT EYES

    Listen,every country is not like America.This country accepts anything deviant and expects everyone else to do the same.It will never happen.Gay people in Takaordi(Ghana)must now sign a registry so they can be easily identified.

  • Peace

    @Getting Down

    You OBVIOUSLY dont know what you are talking about smh…

  • drenk

    @cruzan trini

    i know its found in nature i never said it wasnt, didnt u see my post about b.o.n.o.b.os d.y.k.ing out…?

  • LYRICS

    AFRICANS AIN’T PLAYIN’!!!

    they are LUCKY that’s all they got cuz in J.A. there would be no arrest, no trial, just stoning, torture, or some other form of curelty that would result in death.

  • http:chokolatemilk.blogspot.com Choco

    I feel bad for them and I hope GOD intervenes.

  • Queen R

    Everybody loves the sunshine.

  • getting down

    So
    Peace

    5/20/10, 14:39:pm

    @Getting Down

    You OBVIOUSLY dont know what you are talking about smh…

    ************************************

    Your gay a.s.s will dispute anything pertaining to two d.i.c.k.s slapping around together.

  • African No No

    Africans are the original man, so they don’t stray too much from the True Word. It is what it is.

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