News

    Malawian Married Gay Couple Plead Not Guilty to Indecency Charges

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Human rights groups in Malawi have leapt to the defense of two gay men who were arrested after marrying in the country's first public same-sex ceremony. The men were charged in court Wednesday.

    The two men, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, pleaded not guilty before a court in Blantyre to charges of indecency. The court denied bail but said it would examine the request next week.

    The charges carry penalties of up to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors said they might bring additional charges.

    The two men were arrested Sunday after performing a traditional wedding ceremony before hundreds of curious onlookers.

    The Center for the Development of People, which fights for the rights of gays, prostitutes and prisoners, said it would support the men's defense. It said the laws used to arrest them are invalid because they run counter to the Bill of Rights in Malawi's constitution.

    But the Malawi Law Society urged authorities to prosecute calling the wedding illegal and against the order of nature.

    The head of the Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Undule Mwakasungura, agreed that the men had violated Malawian law. But he said society could not continue to pretend that gays do not exist.

    "The challenge is that gays and homosexuals are part and parcel of us as Malawians, as Africans," said Mwakasungura. "We cannot continue discriminating against them."

    Pearson Mtata is a sociology professor at the University of Malawi who has researched homosexuality in Malawi. He told national radio that African gays face a dilemma because traditional values are still strong.

    "Most of them [gays] are afraid to come out, not because they are ashamed of their behavior but because they are afraid of society," said Mtata.

    Homosexuality is considered taboo in most traditional African societies and is illegal in most African countries.

    Senegal recently arrested 25 men at a party and charged them with committing indecent acts. Uganda is soon to debate a law proposing the death penalty for some gays.

    South Africa has legalized same-sex marriage and its constitution guarantees the rights of gays and lesbians. But traditional and religious members of parliament have proposed amendments outlawing same-sex marriages.

    Mwakasungura believes one of the reasons for the public wedding ceremony was to challenge these laws and customs.

    "This has given us a wake-up call but also a new chapter in terms of how we deepen the discussion or the debate on the gay citizens in Malawi," he said.

    He notes that the country's law commission is examining outdated laws and could look at same-sex marriages.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora