Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in calling upon the Malawi government to release Steven Monjeza (age 26) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (age 20) from detention and end discrimination against LGBT and HIV/AIDS activists. After their traditional engagement on December 27, 2009, the two were arrested on December 28, 2009 and charged with "unnatural offenses" and "indecent practices between males" (Sections 153 and 156 of the Malawi Penal Code) with a potential sentence of up to 14 and 5 years in prison, respectively. The two were then denied bail, and prosecutors subjected them to internal medical examinations without their consent.
"I love my husband and laws should not prohibit love."- Tiwonge Chimbalanga
After their traditional engagement on December 27, 2009, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested on December 28, 2009 and charged "unnatural offenses" and "indecent practices between males" (Sections 153 and 156 of the Malawi Penal Code) with a potential sentence of up to 14 and 5 years in prison, respectively.
The Court has denied bail to Monjeza and Chimbalanga, citing "fear that the public will be hostile against them" as justification for their ongoing incarceration. As their defenders have argued, however, a continued stay in prison instead exposes them to more abuse and the violation of their fundamental rights at the hands of fellow inmates and jailers.
The arrests and subsequent mistreatment of Monjeza and Chimbalanga violate their constitutional rights to equality (Article 20), to freedom of association, conscience, opinion, and expression (Articles 32-35), and to the enjoyment of a cultural life of one's choice (Article 26). The arrests also violate Malawi's international human rights commitments, including the rights to privacy and non-discrimination that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees to all regardless of sexual orientation, as well as the rights to equality, dignity, security and life in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (Articles 3-6). The Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, a document signed by several respected African jurists, states that governments must "repeal criminal…provisions that prohibit…consensual sexual activity among people of the same sex" to ensure all people's rights to equality and non-discrimination (Principle 2). The lives of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga must be respected without discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read more