Malawi gay couple jailed for “unnatural acts”

According to this CNN report, the Malawian same-sex couple who wed have been found guilty of indecency and unnatural acts.

The pair was arrested in December at their home in Blantyre, Malawi, for professing their love in a traditional engagement ceremony. They were rounded up after news reports surfaced, charged under colonial-era sodomy laws and detained at Chichiru Prison without bail.

The arrests received some popular support in the conservative southern African nation, but sparked condemnation by gay rights activists. Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for the release of the couple.

Critics on the scene and condemned the sentence.

“There was no victim in this case, yet they were given a very harsh sentence by the judge,” said Gift Trapence, executive director of a Malawi human rights group.

This tragic situation is much like what is possible in Uganda. And sadly, you have the church associated with this limitation of personal freedom of conscience.

“Most people are repugnant towards homosexuality,” said Canaan Phiri, secretary general of the Malawi Council of Churches. “People do not declare their homosexuality because people are against this.”

28 thoughts on “Malawi gay couple jailed for “unnatural acts””

  1. Maazi,

    the sexual liberty issue is a difficult issue to “control” Many heterosexuals are engaging in unbiblical acts and yet, they go unnoticed. Seems like a hypocrisy to me. But I do understand where you are coming from, I just don’t agree with your method. Some well meaning christians (even in America or Western cultures) have made some bad mitakes that caused great harm to many people.

    I hope Uganda finds other choices for managing their christian faith. It doesn’t have to be a liberal or western response.

  2. Mary,

    We cannot adopt libertarian measures such as legalised buggery in the sphere of privacy while denying right of same-sex marriage— as the West did in 1960s and 1970s. History informs us that these measures are ineffective and will only give gayism room to breathe and grow into a powerful juggernaut. I am not a fan of religious fundamentalists, but I completely agree with Pastor Martin Ssempa that if we give practitioners of gayism a “centimetre” of space, they will demand a “metre” of space. If we acceed to that demand then they will demand a “kilometre” of space. We do not want to go to sleep and wake up 20 years down the line and find ourselves struggling to define the meaning of marriage and the meaning of adoption. We don’t want to struggle for the right to keep pro-gay literature away from our children and the right to express our opinions without fear of censure. I read about the former Miss California who lost her chance to be Miss USA for expressing her views that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman. Her libertarian conviction that gays should be free to do whatever they want to do without government sanction failed to impress the powerful Euro-American Gay Lobby. An uncompromising Lobby that demands all or nothing. You must understand that we cannot allow such nonsense to happen to us here in Uganda (and by extension, the African continent). The Euro-American Gays are trying to establish a beachhead to our continent via the East and Southern African regions. We are determined to cut that nascent link before it becomes impossible. Personally, I want all african nations to defy hypocritical western indignation and bolster their sexual offences laws with clauses that prohibit gay advocacy.

  3. Maazi N.C.O.,

    It’s not my place, however, as an ex lesbian I hope that the laws being suggested to control gayism in your country, offer another choice for those who are gay and know gays to respond rather than with criminal justice.

    It is your country and homeland. I disagree with the criminalization of gayism and the punishment of death for any reason. That is not my christian belief of how to respond. In the end, I do hope that Uganda finds a way to uphold it’s christian faith with less fear and less hatred for those who are different.

  4. Timothy Kincaid,

    For the vast majority of African people, gayism is one of the worst forms of sexual depravity ever known to mankind. This is our irrevocable position which cannot be changed through racially charged insults punctuated with words like “uneducated”, “primitive”, “superstitious” and so on. Please do not delude yourself— The United States of America may have global influence, but it is not the centre of the universe. It is this disgraceful “We-Are-Superior” mentality that led the extremely ignorant Bush regime (with support of equally ignorant Americans) to go to war in Iraq on the false pretence of hunting nuclear weapons and the delusion of exporting Jeffersonian Democracy.

    On the issue of economic blackmail if we continue to reject gayism, let me announce that this will be coming to an end soon— in at least one nation. Uganda has now struck commercial quantites of crude oil, so the days of using useless donor aid packages as a means of humiliating neocolonial control is coming to an end. I know that the venal Ugandan political class will steal some of the accruing petro-dollars. But it is better they steal money earned unconditionally from our own natural resource than have the double whammy of agreeing to surrender our sovereignty and culture in exchange for foreign bribes (i.e. western donor aid) , which will still be stolen anyway by the thieving political class !!

    Please quit your illogical convoluted gay propaganda which equates legalisation of homosexuality with economic prosperity, progressiveness and modernity. I have given the example of first world Singapore where gayism is officially illegal. Malaysia–the economic Asian Tiger– keeps sodomy firmly criminalized. The celebrated Dubai City in UAE with those shiny skyscrapers is a prosperous place, but any Gay hanky-panky over there will send you straight to a police cell.

    Contrary to your ignorant stereotypes, African economies are doing very well despite the global credit crunch and this is not solely down to prices of natural resources. Even African nations that have little natural resources are doing quite well. To prove this independently, please get hold of data from IMF, World Bank and UNCTAD. Even western media outlets such as Bloomberg News, Reuters, The Economist and Financial Times of London have written on these gradual improvements in African lives, driven largely by improving governance standards and an emerging private sector. Of course, poverty remains a huge problem. There is also now a lot of non-Western investors in Africa. Examples include China, Brazil, India, Gulf Arab States, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Russia, etc.

    So Timothy, don’t worry, soon the West will no longer be in a position to blackmail and humiliate African people with money. For now we will stand steadfast and resist any western imposition on our way of life.

  5. As well, Timothy, there are places in the world where I cannot step foot either. I am glad that we have a different culture in America (to some extent) and probably will never go to Uganda for the very fact that my past could have me imprisoned and killed (just like you). While I do not agree with the criminalization of homosexuality and certainly am against capital punishment regardless of the reason, butting heads on a blog or forum like this is not making headway on the issue and only deepening the divide.

  6. Warren, Even if it is reversed, I don’t like the idea of another American writing in the style that Timothy is writing. Also, remember, that I am not so far away from my experiences as a lesbian that I have forgotten the bigotry that existed here once. The infighting between so called christians is not a good example of anything. Thought at least, I had a chance to make some sense to an American.

  7. Mary – Let’s reverse it. Maazi begins to call for the imprisonment of Christians in his land. He believes Christianity is not indiginous to African and thus should be rooted out and destroyed. Perhaps because we are supposed to turn the other cheek, you are civil but I doubt you would worry so much about his culture.

  8. Oh, and if I wasn’t clear…

    Yes, I have no hesitation in denouncing bigotry.

  9. It’s okay to make flat out statements (no insinuations in what I said, I was direct) about people who want to kill me or throw me in jail for life if I step on their continent. And it’s ok to hope that Africans take control of their destiny, kick out the petty dictators, abandon bigotry, and place education and humanity as higher priorities than whatever is imagined (falsely) to be “African values”.

    If you have a problem with that, then I think you need to reinspect your priorities and what you really believe. You seem awfully concerned about the sensibilities of Maazi, but don’t seem at all put out by what he is saying.

    Am I misunderstanding you?

  10. Just the bigoted ones

    In other words, it’s okay to make bland insinuations about a persones background, culture, land etc… because he does not share your belief system or philosphy?

  11. Mary,

    Nope. I’m not making insinuations about “many Africans.”

    Just the bigoted ones.

    I love the Africans that have a vision for their continent that involves education, real democracy, economic advancement, free markets, and human rights.

    And as much as Maazi want to hold onto his nonsensical “traditional African” notions of separateness, I think that eventually there will be more Africans who want to be part of the greater world, even if it means treating gay people with rights and dignity.

    In time the Maazi’s of Africa will be seen as anachronistic and a thing of the past and that beautiful continent will come to take the place in the global family that its natural resources deserve.

  12. Timothy,

    I don’t like the insinuations you are making about African people in general when you insult Maazi. You are insulting many Africans with some of your statments. Just saying.

  13. Maazi,

    I’m amused by people who say, “you will never…” as though your poor feeble backwater bigotry can stop the hand of time.

    And for all your protestations about independence and autonomy and African pride, let me ask you: What language are your laws written in? What countries pay your bills? When there is famine or drought or epidemic to whom do you turn? If you want a good education, where do you go?

    Face it. The globe is too small to pretend that you have some independence from the rest of the world. The time has passed when some African nation can engage in human rights violations or abuses and not have anyone notice.

    So brag all you like. Beat your chest and announce that I’m a fish out of water.

    But the world rolls on. And unless you wish to continue to be impoverished, superstitious, foolish, uneducated and destitute, you’ll roll with it.

    By the way, I really do notice that you don’t answer questions or engage in real dialogue. I ask “what groups?” and instead of answering you repeat the “not in Africa” mantra.

    Is that due to an inability to comprehend or to think logically?

  14. Timothy Kincaid,

    On African soil, you are fish out of water. This is not USA where you can use pro-gay propaganda supported by an influential Western media to intimidate everyone from senators to even bible-thumping christian fundamentalists (e.g. an apologetic Pastor Rick Warren) into acting as your ventriquolist dolls. In the African continent, you are powerless. Deal with it !! Like I explained to Zoe Brain, you will never get to see exotic gay parade on the streets of Kampala, Abuja, Lagos, Accra, Harare, Lilongwe, Gaborone, Addis Ababa, Cairo, Rabat, etc. We will not be moved even if Euro-American Gay Lobby orchestrate hundreds of pro-gay editorials in Washington Post, New York Times, Times of London, Daily Telegraph, CBC, Guardian, ABC News, CNN, Wall Street Journal and LA Times. Setting up fake advocacy groups in Africa to do your bidding will ultimately fail, but will probably send a few clever Africans singing all the way to the bank with hot foreign “pink” cash in their pockets.

  15. Maazi,

    What is the name of the foreign NGO that persuaded Tiwonge and Steven to “pull that stunt”? And what evidence do you have of that persuasion?

    Or, as I suspect, are you just conjecturing and speculating and presenting your imaginings as though they were fact?

    I’m sorry, but here in the degenerate West, we call that “lying.”

    But I do love how you change the subject when you are proven wrong. That is, after all, the hallmark of someone who is not interested in the truth, just in trying to convince themself that they are right.

  16. Jim B:

    I readily concede that if we must apply a Western term, transgender appears to be a much more accurate descriptor than gay. But in the interest of fuller accuracy, I will stick to the only description that Tiwonge provides, and the one I find to be the most accurate: Tiwonge identifies as a woman. And she does so according to her understanding of what it means to be a woman in the context of her culture. Until we hear otherwise from Tiwonge directly, there cannot be a more accurate description than that.


    Now a gender theorist would classify her as fa’fahine….

  17. Maazi – I wrote to you as an equal, not some child to be babied. Far too many actual racists treat Africans with that “benevolent paternalism” that says you’re too primitive to be criticised, nor held to the same standards we hold ourselves to.

    The South African Truth and Reconciliation system was a model for the entire world. A new thing, never seen before, that is quite possibly the greatest single achievement is the resolution of irreconcilable differences since the invention of representative democracy. And it was all-African.

    We have no compunction about learning from your mistakes – and also learning from your achievements. But while you refuse to learn from ours, you make yourselves look like fools. Just we make ourselves look like fools sometimes.

  18. One of the two jailed is a pre-op trans woman. She identifies as female, and the couple identify themselves as straight.

    Not entirely true. Please beware of seeing things through Western eyes. While I beleive our web site was the first Western outlet to note that Tiwonge identifies as a woman, I would also caution that in the African context it is not the same thing as being trangender, pre-op or otherwise. Also, While we have avoided calling Tiwonge and Steven a “gay couple” as so many others have done, I also have never seen either Tiwonge or Steven identify themselves as straight, as you assert.

    I’ve discussed this particular issue in detail here:

    I’ve also been in touch with UK LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, who has been similarly careful about how to identify Tiwonge. Tatchell has been in very close contact with Tiwonge and Steven both.

    It can be extremely complicated talking about how other cultures construct ideas about sexuality and gender, but we also must be careful in telling Tiwonge’s and Steven’s story that we really tell their story and not a projection of our own.

  19. Zoe Brain, you can fling all sorts of racist insults on Africans, but we are not going to bend over for you, okay? If you think that economic blackmail will change our mind then you are mistaken. I find it amusing that you the Westerner are now an authority on pre-colonial african history—that you know us more than we know ourselves. You think that that we are so stupid as to fall for pro-gay revisionist history written by Western authors like Stephen Murray who are obviously more talented than Greek mythologists. On this matter of sexual depravity, we have taken a stand. You can insult me all you like, but you will never witness a gay parade, gay marriage or gay adoption anywhere on the continent, except south africa where gayism was allowed as a way of rewarding europeans that helped in the anti-apartheid struggle.

  20. Maazi N.C.O.

    The trial of Mr. Chimbalanga and Mr. Monjeza began on Jan. 11, with hundreds gathering outside the decrepit courtroom, hooting and jeering.

    Three days later, Mr. Chimbalanga arrived in court noticeably ill. His lawyers said he had contracted malaria in the hideously overcrowded jail, though the defendant later blamed guards for trying to beat him into a confession.

    As Mr. Chimbalanga fell to the floor and began to vomit, spectators mocked him. “Auntie Tiwo is pregnant,” some called out. Mr. Chimbalanga was led away, only to return with a mop and pail to clean up the mess.

    It is difficult to see Malawi as anything but a nest of ignorant savages as the result of that. Barbarians. Similar in many respects to the “People’s Courts” in vogue in parts of Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s. Ignorant Savagery is not confined to whites, or blacks, it’s because the West has seen such Barbarity within ourselves, and within living memory, that we recognise it in others.

    You adopted the trappings of the White Man’s Colonial “Justice” – including some truly barbaric legislation. But a scene like that would never have been allowed to occur in any British Court in the last 200 years.

    I’m tempted to say that if you don’t like foreign NGOs, then expell them. But that would remove 40% of Malawi’s budget, wouldn’t it? As well as killing a lot of people who would die of starvation, because of the corruption, peculation and tribal rivalry that is endemic to the region. We know about those evils too, just look at Bosnia.

    What is unique to Malawi is the extent to which your superstitions are being used to manipulate you by the unscrupulous snake-oil merchants of various cults. They tell you lies, and you believe them because you want to feel proud of your people, and your nation, after so many unjust humiliations.

    But the only people who can humiliate you are you yourselves. And you’re doing a very good job of that.

    Perhaps you should read Boy Wives and Female Husbands, which charts reports of cultural homosexuality in Africa since 1625.

    “Among the many myths Europeans have created about Africa, the myth that homosexuality is absent or incidental in African societies is one of the oldest and most enduring.”

  21. Timothy Kincaid,

    The Malawian chaps invited members of the public to witness what they claimed was an “engagement ceremony”. In Malawi, as far as I know, an engagement ceremony is the first stage of a series of steps that lead to the full marriage. So in effect, these guys were trying to procure gay marriage contrary to the law. Lets face it, these chaps were persuaded to pull that stunt by foreign NGOs who wanted to test the resolve of Malawians to apply their anti-gay law. Malawian law did not disappoint—It responded swiftly and harshly. Unfortunately, the all powerful Euro-American Gay Lobby was unable to brow beat the materially poor Malawians into doing their bidding. Given the Lobbyists’ string of victories in the almighty West, their defeat by defiant poor Black African Malawi must be grating and humiliating. LOL.

  22. “God calls homosexuality an abomination, which is greater than a simple sin,” the Rev. Felix Zalimba, pastor of the All for Jesus Church in Blantyre, said Thursday.

    So is wearing mixed threads, such as polyester-cotton. Or eating shellfish.

    “Homosexuality,” says Pastor Mario Manyozo of the Word of Life Tabernacle Church in Malawi, “is against God’s creation and is an evil act, since gays are possessed with demons.” The Anglican bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Right Rev Isaac Orama, believes homosexuals are “inhuman, insane, satanic and not fit to live”.

  23. One of the two jailed is a pre-op trans woman. She identifies as female, and the couple identify themselves as straight.

    They were given the maximum possible sentence, 14 years hard labour.

  24. Do you think that Malawi is a colony of the United States like Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands?

    No. I think that it still has the mindset of a colony of Victorian England.

  25. Maazi,

    A man who marries two consenting women will be jailed for Bigamy in the United States.

    You are mistaken.

    Generally, bigamy does not result in jail time, though it can. Legal bigamy is pretty rare in the US because one is not ‘married’ unless one has a marriage license. And we don’t give them out except to single people.

    If someone wants to have a ceremony in which he ‘marries’ a dozen women, that is not illegal, it just won’t have any legal standing. We have no laws against private consensual multiple partner relationships.

    However, in the Malawi case, this was not a situation of breaking marriage laws. It was the punishment of private adult consensual relationships.

    That you try and justify 15 years of hard labor says a great deal about the condition of your heart.

  26. Jirair Ratevosian,

    Do you think that Malawi is a colony of the United States like Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands? It will take more than Western hysteria for Africans to bend over for western debauchery.

  27. A number of NGOs in Africa including AIDS & Rights Alliance of South Africa, Centre for the Development of People, and the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation are spearheading a petition drive to express outrage and solidarity on this issue.

    You can add your organization’s name to the petition here:

    Also, U.S. Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have introduced House Resolution 1335 calling on the Government of Malawi to release the men.

  28. A man who marries two consenting women will be jailed for Bigamy in the United States. In Malawi, two men who do the same will serve the time for violating the laws of the land. Its as simple as that.

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