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Malawi gay couple face full tria

Discussion in 'Mahusiano, mapenzi, urafiki' started by Spear, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. Spear

    Spear JF-Expert Member

    Mar 22, 2010
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    Malawi gay couple face full trial

    [​IMG] Steven Monjeza (L) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (R) face 14 years in jail

    A judge in Malawi says that two gay men arrested in December after getting engaged have a case to answer.
    A lawyer said the couple would now call defence witnesses. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza deny charges of gross indecency.
    They have now spent almost three months in custody in what is being seen as a test case for gay rights in Malawi.
    The judge said a full trial would proceed in April. Homosexual acts carry a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
    The courtroom was packed for the hearing - the first stage in the legal process. About 50 people were reportedly unable to get in.
    "The court has established a prima facie case against the accused persons," said magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa.
    The men's lawyers have argued that their constitutional rights are being violated.
    Human rights groups and diplomats have joined the debate, with donors including the UK and Norway warning that the country should respect human rights or risk international isolation.
    Malawi is a deeply conservative society but recently a group of campaigners came together to form a gay rights organisation, Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP).
    Correspondents say some voices in government have also started to call for more openness about homosexuality as the authorities try to tackle high rates of HIV/Aids.