The Malawi High Court on Thursday denied granting bail to the southern African country's first openly gay, citing safety concerns.
Twenty-six-year-old Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, have been in jail since their arrest on 27 December following their traditional engagement ceremony a day earlier.
The couple was set to be Malawi's first openly wedded gay couple if their planned wedding in the new year went ahead.
The lower court charged the couple with three counts of buggery or unnatural acts between males and 'gross indecency', felonies, contrary to the country's penal code that can see them in prison for up to 14 years on conviction. Photos
'In the current circumstances, the state is validly concerned about and intere sted in the applicants' safety and justified to be wary of releasing them into the community, at least for the time being,' said judge Rowland Mbvundula.
Reading a ruling in his chambers of the High Court, attended by the couple's law yer, Mauya Msuku, state lawyer Tilly Lokomwa and eight journalists, Mvundula said 'in a word, on the facts and material before me, the order sought by the appli cants is withheld.'
Earlier, Msuku argued that the issue of safety should 'not arise at all since the two had been staying together and carrying on as husband and wife prior to their appearance in court' without known problems from the community.