Couple’s ordeal highlights gay rights in Africa

July 07, 2010

Love has been many things for Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga: complicated, illegal, symbolic, and now perhaps not even love at all.

The two men from Malawi became Africa’s most controversial couple after their engagement in December. Any happiness was short-lived, however, as they were convicted for “gross indecency and unnatural acts”.

Their sentence of 14 years’ hard labour was commuted by President Bingu wa Mutharika only after considerable international pressure.

Condemned by some as “unnatural” and “un-African”, Mr Monjeza and Mr Chimbalanga were applauded by others for challenging the homophobia that activists say is prevalent and enshrined in law across the continent.

But their campaigning role, propelling gay equality into African consciousness, may have pushed their relationship to the brink of collapse. Mr Chimabalanga appears to be on the verge of seeking asyl… [more]

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