Malawi: Protecting the rights of same-sex couples

Salc : Staff Writer

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested on 28 December 2009 and charged with violating sections 153 and 156 of Malawi’s Penal Code prohibiting carnal knowledge against the order of nature and gross indecency between males.  They had held a traditional engagement ceremony two days prior to their arrest, a fact which was widely reported in the local press.

The Magistrate found the couple guilty of both offences and sentenced them to a maximum of 14 years hard labor.  In reaching his sentence, the Magistrate decided it best to give a ‘scaring sentence’ as a deterrent for others who may be contemplating similar behavior.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika eventually pardoned both Steven and Tiwonge following a series of visits from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, head of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe, and head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malari, Michel Kazatchkine.

SALC worked with the Centre for the Development of People on the case and advocacy.

Read the judgment.