Malawi backs trial of newly wed gay couple

Malawi on Tuesday defended the country’s first trial of a newly wed gay couple charged with “gross indecency”, saying they were being tried in a court of law and under existing laws.

“We are a sovereign country with own laws,” Information Minister Leckford Thotho said.

“Our laws criminalise homosexuality, and what the two did was clearly breaking the laws of Malawi,” Thotho said in a statement.

The government was reacting for the first time three weeks after Tiwonge Chimbalanga (20) and Steven Monjeza (26) were arrested and charged with “gross indecency” after conducting Malawi’s first public gay wedding.

The two, who face up to 14 years in prison if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to the charge but are still in police custody after a magistrates’ court denied them bail.

“Despite Malawi depending on international aid, the country is a sovereign country with its own laws and must not be influenced by the West in the running of its affairs of state,” said Thotho.

“As government we cannot interfere in the court process. We depend on our Western friends, yes, but we are a sovereign country with our own laws.”

The men’s lawyers have argued that the penal code under which they were charged “is unconstitutional as it is against the spirit of the Constitution”.

Last week, the pair asked the Constitutional Court to hear their case, arguing that their detention violated their legally protected rights.

But the judge hearing their case insisted on proceeding with their trial until the higher court decides whether to accept their appeal. The trial resumes on Monday.

Monjeza and Chimbalanga’s five-month relationship has shocked the conservative nation where homosexuality is banned and where sex topics are still largely taboo.

The pair has not applied for legal recognition of their wedding. — Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

‘Before Night Falls’: Reinaldo Arenas breaks down (in) Fidel Castro’s Cuba

Reinaldo Arenas’s memoir reveals the contradiction of a revolutionary society ruled by an autocrat

Malawi’s new president is off to a good start

In 100 days of presidency, Lazarus Chakwera has been mostly well received despite a few glitches

Tanzania’s opposition leader on reggae, resistance and his own resurrection

Sixteen bullets and 27 operations later, Tanzania’s main opposition leader has recovered from a brutal assassination attempt – and is now in the middle of an even bigger fight

Tanzania’s opposition finds that forming a united front is not so easy

Having missed the chance to form a coalition, a so-called ‘endorsement’ may be the next-best step

This is how Lungu is planning to rig Zambia’s 2021 general election

The president is trying to amend the Constitution and create a new voters’ roll in a bid to stay in power

Why do presidents cling to power?

Four former heads of state speak about what being president is actually like

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Baby Awa: The miracle baby born on a boat fleeing...

More than 300 000 people in the north of the country have been displaced by militants who ransack villages and then burn them down.

Five suspects arrested in Senzo Meyiwa case

Police minister Bheki Cela announced on Monday that his team has arrested five suspects who were allegedly involved in the killing of former Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa.

EFF eyes municipalities ahead of 2021 local government elections

EFF leader Julius Malema says the party is preparing to govern in many municipalities from next year. It is also launching a programme to defend the rights of farm workers

WSU suspends classes and exams to avoid the spread of...

The university says it has to take the precautionary measures because 26 students have tested positive on its East London campus

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday