Source: The Promoter Africa Magazine / Peter Tatchell
Sixty-five British MPs have signed a House of Commons Early Day Motion which condemns Malawi's arrest and trial of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who are accused of a homosexual relationship.
The two men love each other and have harmed no one. But they could be jailed for up to 14 years.
The verdict in their trial is expected to be delivered next Monday, 22 March.
Steven and Tiwonge have suffered abuse and humiliation since their arrest.
The EDM, tabled by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, urges the release of the two men, the dropping of all charges and the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Malawi.
Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay human rights group OutRage! said:
Many letters of protest have been sent to the Malawian High Commissioner in London, Dr. Francis Moto, urging that Tiwonge and Steven be released and all charges dropped, on the grounds that they have harmed no one.
The men's prosecution and the ban on homosexuality violate the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the Constitution of Malawi and of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold.
Mr Tatchell has been working with Malawian friends to support the men on trial and to oppose their prosecution. He helped organise the EDM in the British Parliament.
In the 1970s and 80s, Mr Tatchell campaigned for the release of political prisoners in Malawi during the dictatorship of Dr Hastings Banda and for improved wages and conditions for Malawian workers on British-owned farms and estates in the Mulanje region.
The EDM has been communicated to the Malawian High Commissioner in London. It will hopefully add to pressure for the acquittal of Steven and Tiwonge and for the eventual decriminalisation of homosexuality by the Government of Malawi.EDM 564 - Human Rights in Malawi
We hope this parliamentary motion will send a strong signal from the House of Commons to the Malawian government that the criminalisation of consenting same-sex relations is a violation of human rights. Malawi's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens have a right to privacy, equality, respect and dignity, under the country's constitution and under international humanitarian law.
Malawi is a sovereign nation and we respect its independence. But we hope that its government will recognise that this trial and the criminalisation of homosexuality are contrary to the human rights principles that Malawi has embraced since its transition from dictatorship to democracy.
We appeal to the kindness and generosity of the Malawian people and government: please show mercy to Steven and Tiwonge and do not persecute your fellow Malawian citizens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
OutRage! supports the many Malawian people who oppose homophobia and the prosecution of these two men. It is encouraging to hear people in Malawi say: live and let live.
Tiwonge and Steven have harmed no one. They should not be on trial.
This House notes the same-sex engagement ceremony in late December 2009 of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga; calls upon the President of Malawi to ensure that they are released from jail and that all charges against them for homosexual relations are dropped; calls upon the Government of Malawi to decriminalise homosexuality in accordance with the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Malawian constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and to ensure the human rights of all its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The Malawi High Commissioner in London:
His Excellency Dr. Francis Moto, High Commission of Malawi, 70 Winnington Road, London N2 0TX, United Kingdom. Telephone: 020 8455 5624, Fax: 020 3235 1066, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters of support
P.O. Box 30117
P.O. Box 30117
- Monday 22 March, 12.30pm to 2pm
- Commonwealth Secretariat's head office, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX.
- By the corner of Pall Mall and St James's Street.
- Nearest tubes: Green Park, Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus
The protest is sponsored by OutRage!, Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, Red Room, Rukus Foundation, Gay Activists Alliance International and an informal coalition of black and African LGBT activists in London.
Prominent LGBT black and African campaigners backing the protest include, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, Dennis Carney, Ted Brown, Topher Campbell, Godwyns Onwuchekwa and Skye Chirape.
Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is co-organising next Monday's protest said:
We want Steven and Tiwonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi's anti-homosexuality laws. These laws violate the equality and non-discrimination provisions of Article 20 of the Malawian Constitution and Articles 2, 3 and 4 and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold.From their prison cell in Malawi, Steven and Tiwonge have sent a message to me, urging more international pressure to secure their release.
For the last two months, OutRage! has arranged prison visits and the delivery of food and spending money to Tiwonge and Steven.
This protest has been organised in response to an appeal for help from the jailed men.
Monday's protest has two themes:
- Free Tiwonge and Steven, drop the charges, repeal anti-gay laws
- The Commonwealth must condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi