Friday, May 21, 2010

Malawi Couple Sentenced to 14 Years for Being Gay

Around the world, homophobia is more than stares, snickers or violent attacks.  One can be imprisoned.  Take a look at the following story...

A Malawi court on Thursday sentenced a gay couple who staged a same-sex wedding to 14 years in prison with hard labour, two days after they were convicted of violating "the order of nature".  Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were arrested on December 28 following their symbolic wedding and have been in jail ever since. Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi and several other African countries.

"I sentence you to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour each. That's the maximum under the penal code," magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa told the two men in a courtroom in the capital Blantyre.  "I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example," the judge added.  "Malawi is not ready to see its sons getting married to its sons."

The couple looked subdued when the sentence was handed down and were quickly rushed out of the packed courtroom.  As they were escorted away under heavy police guard, hundreds of curious onlookers outside the court shouted at them, with one woman yelling, "Malawi should never allow homosexuality at any cost."  The sentence could be appealed at the high court, said the judge.  "We will sit down to see if they will need me to appeal at the high court," said the men's lawyer, Mauya Msuku.

The judge Tuesday convicted both men of engaging in gay sex.  In unusually graphic language, Usiwa Usiwa convicted Monjeza of "having carnal knowledge of Tiwonge through the anus, which is against the order of nature."  Chimbalanga was found guilty of "permitting buggery", which the judge said was similarly contrary to the natural order.

While international donors have expressed concern about the trial, Protestant churches in Malawi have urged the government to uphold its ban on homosexuality, which religious leaders described as "un-Christian".  The Malawi case has highlighted a toughening stance across Africa against homosexuality.

Source: AFP Global Edition

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