Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for January, 2010

Malawi Couple Denied Bail

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2010
Steven Monjeza (L) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (R)

Steven Monjeza (L) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (R)

The situation has gone from bad to worse for the two Malawians who were arrested on December 28 for homosexuality after holding a traditional engagement ceremony two days earlier. Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who identifies as a woman, and Steven Monjeza have pleaded not guilty to charges of “unnatural practices” and gross indecency, which carries a fourteen year prison sentence in Malawi. The two have reportedly suffered “appalling” conditions in prison, where they are being threatened with humiliating medical examinations to try to determine whether they have had sex. They also say they have been beaten by police and fellow prisoners.

Despite that, Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa denied them bail yesterday, saying that the were at risk of mob violence if they were released. The couple’s lawyers rejected that claim. They are expected to go to trial on January 15.

In related news, an administrator for the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), a Malawian human rights group, was arrested on charges that the group’s HIV education materials are “pornographic.” Advocates believe the arrest was in retaliation for CEDEP’s public support for Chimbalanga and Monjeza.

Malawi Couple Pleads Not Guilty

Jim Burroway

December 30th, 2009

According to the BBC, the male couple who were arrested for participating in a symbolic traditional engagement ceremony have appeared in court to plead not guilty and ask for bail.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza appeared in court at Blatyre, Malawi’s largest city, on Monday. The BBC reports the court room was packed with large crowds of onlookers. Some people congratulated them but other shouted insults. Also:

Prosecutors say they will send the pair to hospital to prove they have had sex together.

…Mr Monjeza, 26, hinted that he may consider calling off the proposed wedding, as he was sent back to prison.”I am sad I am going back to Chichiri Prison,” he said. “The condition are terrible there. People are exaggerating this thing. I may just as well dissolve this marriage.”Mr Chimbalanga, 20, dressed in women’s clothes, refused to speak to journalists, beyond accusing them of writing “stupid” things.

Homosexuality in Malawi carries a maximum sentence of fourteen years’ imprisonment.

Malawi Couple Arrested, Face 14 Years Imprisonment

Jim Burroway

December 29th, 2009
Malawi couple

Steven Monjeza (L) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (R) married in Malawi last Saturday

Last weekend, two Malawian men became the first same-sex couple to marry in that country. Today, we learn that they have been arrested for “public indecency” because of their wedding.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were married in a symbolic, traditional wedding engagement ceremony on Saturday. They were arrested on Monday night at their home and charged with “gross public indecency because the practice is against the law,” according to police spokesman, Dave Chingwalu.

Homosexuality carries a maximum prison sentence of fourteen years in Malawi. The police spokesman said that the couple will likely face more charges as the investigation continues.

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