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Malawi Suspends Enforcement Of Anti-Gay Laws

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

In response to a formal inquiry from the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Malawian Justice Minister Janet Chikaya-Banda has announced that the government of Malawi will cease enforcement of the nation’s laws against same-sex sexual relations while a court-ordered review of the country’s existing anti-gay laws is completed.

Pink News reports:

[Chikaya-Banda] said the review had stalled due to financial constraints, despite a ruling last autumn by the High Court to review the constitutionality of the laws.

This announcement does not, however, represent the first instance of such laws in Malawi being suspended. The enforcement of Malawi’s anti-gay laws had previously been halted for a brief period of time in November 2012 by the Justice Minister at the time, Ralph Kasambara. “If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional, it would be an embarrassment to government,” Kasambara told Reuters at the time.

This move was viewed at the time to be in line with Malawian President Joyce Banda’s May 2012 commitment to decriminalize consensual sexual relations between two people of the same sex, as well as the previous Justice Minister Ephraim Chiume’s December 2011 inclusion of the country’s anti-gay laws within a list of pieces of legislation he preferred to see reviewed, in a report issued the same week as then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s landmark address before the United Nations summit in Geneva on the subject of LGBT rights.

However, this decision was quickly reversed a few days later under intense pressure and lobbying from the Malawi Council of Churches, a group of 24 Protestant churches in Malawi. Upon issuing this reversal, Kasambara stated that he would rather see the national parliament settle the issue.

Homosexuality is currently illegal in Malawi under Section 153 and 156 of the nation’s Penal Code, which prohibit “unnatural offenses” and offenses against “public decency,” respectively. The order issued today by the current Justice Minister will act to halt enforcement of these provisions.

Malawi: Man Jailed From Gay Wedding in 2010 Has No Regrets

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

As Americans in Washington state celebrate same-sex marriage and UK lawmakers work toward equality there, hundreds of thousands of LGBT people still live in fear, many of them in African nations like Malawi, where Tiwonge Chimbalanga (pictured, right) and then-husband Steven Monjeza were sentenced in 2010 to 14 years in prison for getting married.

A massive, global outcry and the intervention of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led late Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika to pardon them.

Chimbalanga, no longer with Monjeza, is living as a woman in South Africa, and recently sat down with AFP for her first interview since her marriage started an international incident:

“I don’t have any regrets, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Chimbalanga, who identifies as a transgender woman despite being tried as a gay man, told AFP.

Authored By Andrew Belonsky – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Malawi Backtracks on Promise to Stop Arresting Gays

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Human Rights activists and diplomats the world over congratulated Malawi for saying this week that they suspended homophobic laws and stopped arresting people just for being gay.

“If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to government,” Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara said, according to Reuters.

Authored By Andrew Belonsky – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Malawi Government Suspends Anti Gay Laws

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Malawi suspended its anti-gay laws on Monday amid debate about whether they should be repealed over human rights backlash that has left the country without some of its financial support, Reuters reports:

Homosexuality is banned in Malawi – as it is in 36 other African states – and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, but Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara said he wanted debate on the issue before parliament decided whether to keep the laws or not.

“If we continue arresting and prosecuting people based on the said laws and later such laws are found to be unconstitutional it would be an embarrassment to government,” he told Reuters.

Authored By Andy Towle – See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

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Malawi: President Backs Out of Vow to Decriminalize Being Gay

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

“Anyone who has listened to the debate in Malawi realizes that Malawians are not ready to deal with that right now. I as a leader have no right to influence how people feel. Where Malawi is and most African countries are, is maybe where America or the U.K. where about 100 years ago.

“The best thing the world can do is to allow each country to take its course, to allow each country to have that debate freely without the pressure of being pushed. We have seen countries where homosexuals have been killed. Why? Because, in my view, the country — the nation– wasn’t ready.” – Malawi president Joyce Banda, reneging on her May 2012 vow to decriminalize homosexuality when she took office.

See the Full Story at Joe.My.God

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Spammers Latch On To Gay Malawian Couple’s Story

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

OK, I don’t usually pay much attention to spam, but the name on this one jumped out at me:

My dear,

I am Tiwonge Chimbalanga a Malawian gold merchant gay man who was prisoned for 14 years after my marriage in Malawi , I was released from prison with the help of the president Bingu wa Mutharika, US president Obama and UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon.

I ran out of the country as many people was after my life to kill me for been gay in our country, I am now in Ivory Coast where I am taking refuge with my belongings, I have Ten million five hundred thousand united state dollars ($10.500.000) and 150kg of gold which I have deposited in one of the security company here for safe keeping, I want you to help me to relocate to your country with this fund for my life sake, I will offer you 20% of this fund after helping me transfer my belongings to your country and make a way for me to come over and invest it. Pardon me if gay is against your religion and come to my aid.

Yours brother,

Tiwonge Chimbalanga

Kudos for use of a legitimate targeted reference, spammers. Only a few small details out of place. They were imprisoned for 5 months, not 14 years. Tiwonge is now back in his home village, not on the Ivory Coast. And hmmm… don’t you think if he had ” Ten million five hundred thousand united state dollars”, he would have been able to buy a little justice?

OK, OK, so I’m easily amused…

Malawi: One Half of Gay Couple to Marry a Woman (All Africa)

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

In a dramatic twist of events, one of the Malawi pardoned gays, Mr Steven Monjeza, has renounced his love for Mr Tiwonge Chimbalanga and opted to marry a woman Ms Dorothy Gulo barely 10 days after being pardoned.

Mr Monjeza 20, together with Mr Chimbalanga were convicted by the Blantyre resident magistrate court in Blantyre of buggery and indecent act and were sentenced to 14 years of hard labour. However President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them.

Mr Monjeza said he was no longer interested to be associated in what he called ‘gay trash” accusing ‘hidden hands’ of engineering their marriage. He could not mention the names behind their engagement.

Full Story from All Africa

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ILGA, Amnesty International Release International Reports on GLBTI Rights

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Two reports released by international human rights defenders have put the spotlight on global GLBTI rights. The Amnesty International Report 2010 and the ILGA 2010 State-Sponsored Homophobia report paint a worsening situation in Africa, and improvements in parts of Asia and the Americas.

Both reports singled out Uganda for its notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill which aims to criminalise the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality and impose the death penalty in some cases.

Nigeria, which has a similar law before Parliament, was criticised, as was Burundi for criminalising same-sex relations. In Senegal and Cameroon, men faced arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and unfair trials when suspected of being gay. In Malawi, two men were sentenced to 14 years in prison for “indecent practices between males”.

Full Story from SSO

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Malawi: After Release, Couple Separated by Families

Monday, May 31st, 2010

A gay couple freed by presidential pardon in Malawi are living in separate villages amid fears for their safety. Steven Monjeza, 26, and 20-year-old Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, walked free earlier this weekend when President Bingu wa Mutharika lifted their 14-year jail sentence on “humanitarian grounds” after meeting the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

But a human rights campaigner in Malawi said the men had not been reunited. “Prison officials told them that they had received instructions from above that they should send them to their respective villages,” Gift Trapence, who heads the Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep), said.

The two were “leading separate lives … they are not staying together and they don’t want to talk about their experience”, he added.

Full Story from The Guardian

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Malawi: Gay Couple Released After Pardon

Monday, May 31st, 2010

A gay Malawian couple sentenced to 14 years in prison were released from jail late on Saturday after a presidential pardon, SAPA news agency reported on Sunday. Malawi’s leader pardoned the couple on humanitarian grounds on Saturday after a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who applauded the move and urged the country to amend “outdated” laws on homosexuality.

“We were asked to release them immediately,” Prison Service spokesman Evance Phiri was quoted by SAPA as saying.

Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested after celebrating their engagement in a traditional ceremony in late December.

Full Story from the Vancouver Sun

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