Gay Couple Jailed for Malawi 'Wedding'

Under old sodomy laws, they could face 14 years in prison
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2010 9:05 AM CDT
The couple was denied bail, even though, their lawyer argues, those accused of serious crimes often aren't.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A gay couple in Malawi faces up to 14 years in prison for proclaiming their love for each other in a traditional engagement ceremony. Steven Monjenza 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were rounded up by police and charged under colonial-era sodomy laws after word of their engagement hit the press. They were denied bail, and are to be sentenced today, CNN reports.

“It is quite outrageous,” says one gay rights activist supporting them. “In Malawi, people facing much more serious felony charges usually get bail.” Malawi's constitutional court has refused to review the case. Public opinion is split, with many conservatives in the mostly Christian country supporting the arrests. "Most people are repugnant towards homosexuality,” says a Malawi Council of Churches official. “People do not declare their homosexuality, because people are against this.”

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