Friday, January 01, 2010

Outrage In Malawi

Earlier, I reported on the celebrations in New Hampshire, after gay couples were officially allowed to marry in that state, beginning today.

Last week, in an act of courage, a gay couple in Malawi had a symbolic marriage ceremony, and have now been arrested.

Tuesday, Reuters South Africa had this to report:
Two Malawian men were arrested and charged with public indecency, police said on Tuesday, after becoming the first gay couple to marry in the conservative southern African state where homosexuality is illegal.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza publicly wed in a symbolic, traditional ceremony on Saturday.

"We arrested them last night at their home and charged them with gross public indecency because the practice is against the law," police spokesman, Dave Chingwalu, told Reuters.

Homosexuality is banned in Malawi and carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Today's news, courtesy of The Guardian, is even more grim:
The first gay couple to marry in Malawi face a humiliating medical examination aimed at proving they have had sexual relations, it emerged today.

How scary is it for the couple? Consider the following:
The men have denied all the charges against them, but remain in custody pending an application for bail on Monday.

Supedi said he had not yet had opportunity to ask them why they had chosen to make such a public stand.

"I think maybe they regret it," he added. "Chimbalanga was happy and normal in court, but Monjeza seemed very worried and was crying. Perhaps he did not know it would go this way."

As he was sent back to prison, Monjeza hinted to reporters at the court that he might consider calling off the marriage.

"I am sad I am going back to Chichiri prison," he said. "The conditions are terrible there. People are exaggerating this thing. I may just as well dissolve this marriage."

Chimbalanga refused to speak to journalists, other than to accuse them of writing "stupid" things.

The Guardian also noted that Malawi may be more inclined to recognize gay civil rights, due to an alleged 25% HIV rate among gay males, vs. an overall 12% rate of infection. However, the persecution of this couple would seem to dispute the fact that conditions for gays are going to get better anytime soon.

As bad as conditions are for gays in Muslim nations, it appears the focal point on gay oppression currently is located in Africa.

No comments: