Jailed Gay Couple Ignite Rights Battle
Posted on May 14, 2010
A gay couple in Malawi who made history and controversy when they were wed in a symbolic marriage ceremony in December now face 14 years in prison with hard labor in a country where homosexual acts have been declared illegal.
Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza have spent the past several months in jail after a judge detained them “for their own safety.” The couple have since become a symbol for the struggle for gay rights in Africa. —JCL
A man whose same-sex “marriage” has become a symbol of the struggle for gay rights in Africa has vowed to become a martyr rather than give in to homophobia, campaigners say. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and his partner Steven Monjeza are facing a possible 14 years in prison with hard labour after becoming the first gay couple in Malawi to declare their commitment in a public ceremony .
Peter Tatchell, the veteran British gay rights campaigner, has maintained contact with the pair at the maximum security Chichiri prison in Blantyre as they prepare to stand trial next week.
Tatchell told the Guardian he received a defiant message from Chimbalanga that said: “I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.”
Flickr / GaijinSeb
A woman holds a newspaper showing the arrest of the Malawi couple in December 2009.