Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Malawi gay couple to face court after engagement – BBC News & Ruby-Sachs, 365gay.com

"We arrested them because they committed an offence; homosexuality in Malawi is illegal," police spokesman Davie Chingwalu told the BBC.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza held a traditional engagement ceremony over the weekend - believed to be the first gay couple in Malawi to do so.

Homosexuality carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years in Malawi. Photos

The pair are being held in separate cells in Blantyre until their case is heard, Mr Chingwalu told the BBC's Network Africa programme. Read complete articleBBC News

Ruby-Sachs: Gay Malawi Couple Arrested for Having Engagement Party - 365gay.com

Sometimes when we are navigating the complicated social and legal mine fields in the United States, we forget the freedoms we have. Trudging from one awkward family interaction, all those parties for LGBT people with no family to go home to, long conversations about finding a nice [insert opposite sex gender term here] to settle down with, these kinds of holiday traditions can make a queer person feel pretty crappy about themselves.

But a couple in Malawi are struggling for much more basic rights. They were arrested over the weekend for having a same-sex engagement party. Homosexuality in Malawi is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

There are a group of Malawi LGBT people organizing for gay rights in the country. They hope to use the Bill of Rights, incorporated into the constitution in 1995, to protect their membership from prosecution under the anti-gay criminal law. The government is resisting, citing, among other reasons, the rising rate of HIV in the country.

Education and the kind of high profile protest like this past weekend’s engagement party will eventually lead to increased freedoms for Malawi. With South Africa leading the way, there is hope that semi-democratic nations (Malawi has elections, just a lot of corruption to go with it), will be more tolerant of their LGBT citizens. Still, the struggle is long (as Americans know) and the couple in Malawi are just beginning the journey. Read complete article - By Emma Ruby-Sachs, 365gay.com

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