A court in Malawi found a gay couple guilty of “unnatural acts” and “gross indecency” yesterday and will sentence the couple tomorrow. Steven Mojenza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, could face up to 14 years of hard labor. The couple were arrested at their home in December 2009 the day after celebrating their engagement with a party at a hotel, according to the Associated Press.
The couple has received international support from gay rights activists though many in Malawi are reportedly in support of the verdict. British activist Peter Tatchell told CNN, “While Steven and Tiwonge freely confirmed their love for each other, there was no credible evidence that they had committed any illegal homosexual acts…With so much hatred and violence in the world, it is bizarre that any court would criminalise two people for loving each other.” Tatchell also reportedly has received messages from both imprisoned men. Chimbalanga reportedly wrote, “I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.” Monjeza said, We have come a long way and even if our family relatives are not happy, I will never stop loving Tiwonge,” reported the Guardian UK.
Homosexuality is currently illegal in 37 African countries and legal only in South Africa. Currently in Uganda, the Parliament is still considering legislation that, in its original form, would have imposed life imprisonment as the minimum sentence for being gay and would have allowed for the death penalty.