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Author Topic: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned  (Read 1695 times)

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Offline Tim Horn

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Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« on: May 29, 2010, 11:22:14 AM »
Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika pardons Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/africa/10190653.stm

Offline Ann

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2010, 11:44:11 AM »
Fantastic news! :)
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Tim Horn

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2010, 11:47:19 AM »
Yes, very good news.

The problem is, this law is still on the books in Malawi (and numerous other countries). Ideally, the pardon would have come from a constitutional test case in the country, not simply a presidential pardon. What will happen going forward? International outrage won't be available for every gay man and lesbian arrested, convicted and punished in Malawi and elsewhere.

Offline red_Dragon888

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2010, 11:57:02 AM »
Well, it is a start.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I3ba3lnFHik

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Offline emeraldize

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2010, 04:33:53 PM »
just received this. another source, different content, but the same good news. now for the next steps.

Malawi's president: pardon and release gay couple
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100529/ap_on_re_af/af_malawi_gays_pardoned

By RAPHAEL TENTHANI, Associated Press Writer Raphael Tenthani, Associated Press Writer 2 hrs 22 mins ago

BLANTYRE, Malawi ? Malawi's president on Saturday pardoned and ordered the release of a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison, but said that homosexuality remains illegal in this conservative southern African nation.

Activists were searching for a safe house for the couple, fearing they could be attacked upon release.

Malawi has faced international condemnation for the conviction and harsh sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. President Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon, saying it was on "humanitarian grounds only," during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Lilongwe, the capital.

Earlier in the week, the top U.N. AIDS official and the head of an international donor organization met Mutharika in Malawi and expressed concern that criminalizing homosexuality would keep a vulnerable group from seeking HIV/AIDS counseling and treatment.

Joseph Amon of Human Rights Watch said the president was no doubt responding to the international outcry over the case.

"I hope that other leaders of African countries with anti-gay laws see that this is just not acceptable in the international community," Amon told The Associated Press by telephone from New York.

Malawi is among 37 African countries with anti-gay laws.

In Senegal police have rounded up men suspected of being homosexual and beaten them, and a mob last year pulled the corpse of a gay man from his grave, spat on it and dumped it at the home of his elderly parents.

In Zimbabwe this month, two employees of a gay organization spent six days in jail on allegations of possessing indecent material and displaying a placard seen as insulting to President Robert Mugabe, an outspoken critic of homosexuality.

In Uganda, a proposed law would impose the death penalty for some gays.

Even in South Africa, the only country that recognizes gay rights, lesbians have been gang-raped.

In Malawi, a judge convicted and sentenced Chimbalanga and Monjeza earlier this month on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency, both colonial-era laws. They were arrested in December, a day after they celebrated their engagement.

Crowds of Malawians had heckled the two during court hearings, with some saying after they were sentenced to 14 years at hard labor ? the harshest possible sentence ? that they should be imprisoned longer.

Undule Mwakasungure, a gay rights activist in Malawi, told The AP Saturday he was concerned about the couple's safety, and working with other activists to find a safe house for them and possible arrange for them to leave the country at least temporarily.

"There is homophobic sentiment. I think they might be harmed," Mwakasungure said.

Edi Phiri, who fled Malawi for Britain five years ago after being beaten because he was gay, said the two might need to seek asylum outside of Malawi.

"They will be out of prison, but what will happen next?" Phiri said. "The community will see them as outcasts. I don't think they will be safe in Malawi."

A cousin of Chimbalanga, Maxwell Manda, told The AP earlier in the week that Chimbalanga wanted to leave Malawi upon his release.

Mwakasungure and Phiri said the pardon was welcome and could fuel campaigns to overturn Malawi's anti-gay legislation and try to change attitudes.

"The public needs to appreciate that the world is changing," Mwakasungure said. "It won't be easy. But I think that as time goes, people will start to appreciate. We're not talking about changing the law today or tomorrow. But we have to start the process."

Mutharika's comments Saturday underlined the challenge activists face.

"These boys committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws," Mutharika said. "However, as head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore order their immediate release without any conditions."

But he added, "We don't condone marriages of this nature. It's unheard of in Malawi and it's illegal."

Ban praised Mutharika's decision but said, "It is unfortunate that laws criminalize people based on sexuality. Laws that criminalize sexuality should be repealed."

While the order was immediate, a prison spokesman told The AP they had not received notification to release the two men by Saturday afternoon.

Mwakasungure, the activist, said he hoped the release would be delayed until Monday or Tuesday, to give him time to prepare a safe house.

__

Associated Press writer Donna Bryson contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

 


Offline OneTampa

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2010, 04:51:46 PM »
Good news on the pardon.

Now, the next challenges will be keeping the couple safe after their release and allowing them to make a living.
"He is my oldest child. The shy and retiring one over there with the Haitian headdress serving pescaíto frito."

Offline tokyodecadence

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2010, 10:53:04 PM »
I see no reason for them to not be granted asylum in some country or another.
[.Fodão.]

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2010, 12:15:00 AM »
I see no reason for them to not be granted asylum in some country or another.

They would have a valid claim to refugee status. That said seeking asylum can be a dreadful experience.

MtD

Offline emeraldize

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2010, 12:13:04 PM »
another related press release from TAC - worth reading

Press Statement
1 June 2010

TAC, SECTION27 and partners welcome the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga and call for sustained activism to protect the rights of LGBTIs
The Treatment Action Campaign, SECTION27, the Social Justice Coalition, Community Media Trust and the Coalition Against Discrimination welcome the release and pardon of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza in Malawi. They were arrested in December 2009 after getting engaged and sentenced in May 2010 to 14 years imprisonment for ?gross indecency and unnatural acts?. Steven is a man and Tiwonge identifies as a woman and is consequently transgendered.

The release of Steven and Tiwonge came us a result of brave local activism in Malawi as well as international outrage and political pressure. Their release is an indication of what can be achieved through coordinated global activism and solidarity to promote and protect human rights.

TAC and partners would like to thank the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the United Nations Development Programme for their efforts to bring about the release of Steven and Tiwonge. We also welcome President Zuma?s condemnation of the arrests and his defence of the principles of equality contained in the South African Constitution.

However, while we celebrate the release of Tiwonge and Steven, it cannot undo the torment and humiliation that they endured due to the discriminatory legislation that remains in place Malawi from colonial days. This legislation allows the state to violate the human rights of its citizens due to their sexual orientation.

Legislation that persecutes and marginalizes people in same sex relationships exists across the region and in 2010 we have seen a crackdown against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Evidence of this crackdown has included:

1. The arrest of Steven and Tiwonge in Malawi and the continued statements against homosexuality by Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharikal.
2. The recent arrests and charging in Zimbabwe of gay rights workers as well as homophobic statements that have been made by Mugabe and, unexpectedly, Prime Minister Tsvangirai.
3. The proposed bill in Uganda to impose prison sentences and in some cases the death sentence for people engaging in same sex relationships. It now appears that the bill will not succeed, again due to pressure across the globe.
4. Calls from the Forum of Born Again Churches of Rwanda (FOBACOR) to implement a penal code that will impose prison sentences of five to ten years for any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex to sexual relations or any sexual practice.

We believe that we must address discriminatory legislation and human rights violations that still exist and are enforced across the region. To do this, the demand for equality and LGBTI rights must be brought into the international political arena, and reinforced at intergovernmental bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU). Also, it is imperative that, because the enforcement of these laws sometimes finds support amongst prejudices that still exist at community level, human rights education be taken into communities. There is an urgent need for scaled up education on human rights, and particularly on the rights of people in same sex relationships. Organizations that carry out this work must be supported financially and politically to expand their programmes not persecuted and driven underground.

Finally we must point out that homophobic legislation and persecution undermines public health measures. The discrimination of LGBTI?s prevents access to and uptake of HIV testing, treatment, prevention and care. The promotion of human rights must be a central part of HIV/AIDS programmes if we are to achieve universal access. It must not be left to a handful of human rights organisations.

The release of Tiwonge and Steven is an example of what can be achieved with coordinated global activism. These efforts must be sustained to promote and protect the rights of all LGBTIs.

ENDS

Offline Ann

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    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2010, 01:07:47 PM »
I absolutely adore the name Tiwonge Chimbalanga. It's got a ring to it. If I ever get another cat, I've got the name ready.

Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline next2u

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2010, 02:16:28 PM »
thats too funny. it translates as gay freedom...

i hope they are able to leave their country to a safe spot.
midapr07 - seroconversion
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Offline emeraldize

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Re: Malawian Gay Couple Pardoned
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2010, 10:26:06 AM »
UPDATE:

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga appeared at a press conference in the city of Lilongwe on Wednesday, their first public appearance since UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's meeting with Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika, which led to their pardon.

AFP reports:

"A Malawian gay couple who received a presidential pardon on a 14-year sentence for sodomy on Thursday called President Bingu wa Mutharika a 'caring father' and a 'tolerant president.' 'The president has demonstrated that he is a caring father, a considerate and tolerant president. We wish him good health in his everyday endeavours as he continues leading the country to respecting human rights and to economic prosperity,' the couple said in a statement. Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, and Steven Monjeza, 26, gave a brief news conference in the administrative capital Lilongwe late Wednesday, their first public appearance together since Saturday's pardon from the sentence of 14 years' hard labour imposed after they held a symbolic wedding."

Also:

"The couple asked the media and the general public to respect their privacy. 'So much has been said and written about us, both positive and negative. We think this is the time for us to be given an opportunity to enjoy our freedom,' they said. They called their ordeal 'the most stressful period in our lives.' Chimbalanga told AFP in a phone interview that he was in Lilongwe to 'have a breather', while his partner had returned to his village."

Mutharika told the public that his decision was final and not to be discussed: "The story ends there. I don't want to hear anyone commenting on them. Nobody is authorised to comment on the gays. You will spoil things."

Watch a TV interview with the couple (it needs translation, but it offers a look at the couple, post-prison)
http://www.towleroad.com/2010/06/pardoned-malawi-couple-appear-in-public-praise-president.html

 


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