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Gay Marriage Prompts Arrest in Malawi

Posted on Jan 4, 2010

Two Malawian men could spend the next 14 years in jail after taking part in an unofficial marriage ceremony in the southeast African country. Under the guise of the law, the couple have been subjected to beatings, they say, as well as other indignities, such as the threat of a medical examination to determine whether they’ve had sex.

The judge in the case just denied bail to the men, ostensibly for their protection. But who is protecting them in custody?  —PZS

The Guardian:

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza committed to marriage in a symbolic ceremony in southern Malawi last month, attracting hundreds of onlookers. They were arrested at the home they share and charged with unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency.

Government prosecutors had asked the court to detain the couple for a longer period to allow for more investigations.

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By Border Jumpers, January 7, 2010 at 8:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just fyi—we wrote a column yesterday about the battle for gay rights in Uganda and Malawi on our website Border Jumpers called “Human Rights Battle in Uganda Hits Close to Home” at

Here is an excerpt @

Uganda, like most of the countries in Africa, is full of contradictions.

While everyone we met in Uganda was friendly and helpful, going out of their way to assist us when we needed directions, a Wifi hotspot, or a place to find vegetarian food, the country also has some of the most restrictive laws against human rights on the continent. While we were there, the “Bahati Bill” was introduced in parliament.  The Bahati called for life in prison—and in some case the death penalty—for people found “guilty” of homosexual activity.

As gay marriage laws are passed around the world, including most recently in Mexico City, it’s hard to believe that lawmakers would punish people for being gay or having HIV/AIDS. The Bahati bill also punishes anyone who fails to report a homosexual act committed by others with up to three years in jail, and a prison sentence of up to seven years for anyone who defends the rights of gays and lesbians.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, due to mounting pressure from governments such as the United States, across Europe, and in Canada, said that he opposes the measure, and would attempt to try and soften the bill. According to a recent story in Reuters, “the president has been quoted in local media saying homosexuality is a Western import, joining continental religious leaders who believe it is un-African.” With a national election looming in 2012, politicians seem to be using hatred against gays as a scapegoat for rising corruption and the weakening of civil liberties and freedom of the press.

Yet, even the possibility that a watered-down version of the proposed law could be passed, is an alarming sign of a dangerous trend of prejudice all over Africa. In Blantyre, Malawi, for example, a gay couple was arrested last week after having a traditional engagement ceremony. Homosexuality is punishable by 14 years in jail in Malawi
However, human rights advocates continue to fight. In Latin America, they hope that the success of legalized marriage in Mexico City will spread to Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, and other places. Uruguay permits gay parents to adopt and Columbia grants social security rights to same sex couples.

In the United States, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender rights is one of the most import civil and human rights battles we currently face. Despite recent setbacks in California, New York, and Maine—recent success in places like Iowa, DC, and New Hampshire—means that during next decade the battlefield for LGBT rights is not only in Africa but also right here at home.

All our best, Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack

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By DieDaily, January 4, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

Around and around and around we go, the grand game of distraction. We are asked to debate whether the government should be pro or con on the gay marriage issue. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Division, division, division. What a joke. The only sane question is whether the government should be embraced in it’s fiction that it has the slightest right to the slightest opinion, let alone intervention, on this matter. The only sane answer to this, the real question carefully hidden behind the scripted decoy debate, is that it absolutely does not.

Left vs. right. We are hypnotized. By taking up the script of either position, we are already lost. Why is it not obvious to all concerned that a private contract between private individuals is simply that? It should be left to the people and their Churches and communities, end of story. Churches?, howls the left, oh no, oh never that. Newsflash, I was raised Unitarian and our churches have married gays galore since the early 50s. Half of the United Churches up here in Canada will happily accept and marry gays. It is absurd to even suggest that one can not find a JP or a priest to help one consummate whatever happens to be one’s true love, and that should be the final word, end of discussion, fait accompli. The government has no legitimate role in this. Evicting them from their self-appointed, illegal oversight of this sacred, personal decision is task far beyond the ken of those who have swallowed the left pill or the right pill. They would rather accept the false paradigm and in-fight, and in-fight, and in-fight.

The very act of taking a pro- or con- stance as to the NATURE of the state’s intervention in these personal matters is to engage in mindless state-worship in just the manner that they have scripted for us. Distraction. Division. Missing out on the real question, the real fight: freedom vs. statism. How can anyone seriously maintain that we need the help of the state to know our own hearts? I have no sympathy for either “side” of this phony debate. Marrying anyone whom we choose is such an obvious human right that it staggers my mind that so many can accept the proferred bait and become hooked into any other position than the obvious one: that the state must utterly bud out, that it has no standing, that we are being played.

Yet neither Democrats nor Republican offer us a glimmer of hope here. They both build up their base around this fake issue. Neither would let go of it for the world by doing the right thing and banning government involvement in this personal choice. We need to let go of both the parties instead. The only other choice is eternal gridlock. The party system has never brought us responsive government. Yet the unawakened masses ever proceed as though it suddenly could. This is madness. Nullify you party affiliation, whichever it is, now. Be a human, not a brand.

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