Malawi convicts gay couple of 'violating natural order'
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A court in Malawi convicted a gay couple of “violating the natural order” on Tuesday, in a ruling that could land the two men with up to 14 years in prison.Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were first arrested on 28 December after staging a symbolic wedding, and have been in jail ever since.
Both men were found guilty of engaging in gay sex, which magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa described as “against the order of nature”.
Their sentence will be handed down on Thursday.
Prosecutor Barbra Mchenga is pushing for the maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, saying the case has “left a scar on Malawi’s morality”.
Gift Trapence, Director of the Centre for the Development of People in Lilongwe, Malawi
The majority of people in Malawi would agree with the conviction, admits Gift Trapence, director of the Centre for the Development of People (Cedep), a gay rights group that has paid for the couple’s legal representation.
“But there are some human rights organisations that are not accepting the defeat,” he told RFI, mainly international groups active within Malawi.
Amnesty International has designated Chimbalanga and Monjeza prisoners of conscience, while 67 British MPs have signed a motion for debate that condemns the arrest and trial of the two men.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, as in the majority of countries in Africa.
Thirty-eight out of 53 countries criminalise consensual gay sex, which in some nations is punishable by death, according to Human Rights Watch.
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