Thursday, May 20, 2010

Malawi / Violence against Homosexuals

Gay Couple Sentenced to Maximum 14 Years in Malawi
By Raphael Tenthani
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, May 20, 2010
"A judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison for unnatural acts and gross indecency Thursday under Malawi's anti-gay legislation. The harsh sentence had been expected in this conservative southern African country after the same judge convicted Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza earlier this week under laws dating from the colonial era. 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. 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.
Malawi's government has been defiant in the face of international criticism over the couple's prosecution. ... 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. The independent Center for the Development of People was recently formed by Malawians to fight for the rights of homosexuals and other minorities. Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa including Malawi. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill under which homosexuals could be sentenced to life in prison and 'repeat offenders' could be executed. Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have raped lesbians. [...]"

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