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Anti-Gay Abuse Heaped on Malawi Couple During Trial

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2010
Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in the dock at their trial.

Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in the dock at their trial.

The trial against Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were arrested by Malawi police last month following a traditional engagement ceremony in Blantyre, began this week with the prosecutor for South Dickens Mwambazi telling the court that they had a total of seven witness. Four witnesses testified on Monday:

One of the state witnesses was Jean Kamphale, owner of Mankhoma Lodge, where the two suspects had their engagement ceremony.

Kamphale said Chimbalanga confessed to having sex with partner Monjeza to both herself and the police when they picked them on December 28, last year.

“After the media published the story about the two’s engagement, I felt having been deceived by Tionge who for a long time claimed to be a woman.

“He therefore offered to undress so that we could prove the truth of his claims. But after some resistance to show us his genitals, Tionge finally allowed Nyazayi Piringu, Flony Frank and I to see his organ, which to our surprise and contrary to his claims that it was feminine, was male in nature,” Kamphale said.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga identifies as a woman.

The other three witnesses on Monday denied having evidence that the accused had sex before they were arrested. Evidence of sexual penetration is required under Malawi law for conviction. Monjeza and Chimbalanga were reportedly threatened with humiliating physical examinations by the prosecutor’s office. There are also charges that the two have been beaten by police and fellow prisoners. They were denied bail.

In more troubling news, the trial was expected to resume on Wednesday to hear testimony from the last three witnesses, but Chief Resident magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa adjourned the case because, according to the Nyasa Times, Tiwonge was sick, providing no more details. But The Times of London more fully describes this outrageous and humiliating development:

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who has spent more than a week in one of the country’s most congested prisons, vomited and stumbled onto the dusty court floor just before the case was due to start.

As he lay on the ground he was jeered by members of the public who had crowded in to watch what has become a cause célèbre and a test case for gay rights in the African nation.

“Auntie Tiwo ali ndi mimba” — or “Auntie Tiwo is pregnant” — people said.

With no one to assist him, Mr Chimbalanga, 20, dressed with a traditional dotted red and yellow striped wrapper around his waist and a red top, finally managed to stand and was allowed to leave to clean himself up.

A few minutes later he re-emerged with a mop and a pail to clean the vomit from the court floor — a chore that women in Africa typically have to perform even when they are sick.

The two face fourteen years imprisonment if they are convicted.

Comments

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Emily K
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

they remind me of SS. Sergius and Bacchus in that photograph.

Cole
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

I feel so sorry for them. They are so courageous. It must tear them apart seeing scores of people so eager for their demise. I hope they can make it through this.

Regan DuCasse
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

O…M…G,
I can’t I just can’t. Why is it so important for people to humiliate gays and lesbians?
Bringing out what should only be between the two of them into a public square to be treated like dogs.
What an invasion and the interest from the court is actually prurient, not a matter of keeping dangerous people from society.

I am so sick at heart over this. With so little love in the world as it is, why jeer and threaten two people who love each other?
This is spite, this is just mean…and cowardly of the court and the laws of that land.

And although there may be laws against this in our country, it’s not so far removed from people who want to see gay people treated this way in general.

Especially considering what Will Tam said, there was no difference in what he said, to what is said about homosexuals in Uganda and so on.

These two men ARE brave. Like the Lovings were in their time.
I don’t pray very often, but these men and the lawyers fighting for justice and equality in court right now certainly do.

Regan DuCasse
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

oops, typo…I meant to say, for these men and the lawyers…I certainly do.

GreenEyedLilo
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

They are both heroes. Thank you for continuing to bring us news relating to LGBTs outside of North America, even when it’s horrible like this.

kalligulla
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

As a gay Kenyan, it infuriates me to see fellow Africans treat EACH OTHER like this and say what you will Africans that might be reading this, these men are just as African as any other. I focus on this because of the baseless and totally stupid myth that Gay tendencies were somehow foisted upon us by the white man. Funny how the same ignoramuses will use Christianity to denounce the unafricannes of homosexuality. Yeah coz the christian religion is indigenous to traditional Africa. I am totally disgusted by my own continent, save south africa. God i need a shot right now.
These men are heroes. Their story led to my coming out. I’ve never been happier but thinking of them makes me sad.Sometimes i feel that human beings are nothing but a pile of shit. Just utterly disgusting and i just can’t even fathom why people would ENJOY treating human being this way. F**king animals.yeah i said it and God damn them.

John
January 15th, 2010 | LINK

The mistreatment of these two men is heart breaking.

While Malawi’s authorities abuse their power by trying to humiliate these men, they don’t realize that they only shame theirselves and their country by acting like such barbaric monsters to these two men who have done nothing to harm anyone.

Perhaps trade and aide pressure should also be applied to Malawi to encourage them to treat their fellow citizens humanely.

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