The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has condemned the conviction of two Malawian who were charged of committing acts “against the order of nature”.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, two gay-activists who in Decemember last year staged a very public and very illegal engagement ceremony, were yesterday found guilty of having committed acts of buggery and going against the natural order.

Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa, who presided over the case, said the mens’ decision to be in a relationship had “transgressed Malawian standards of propriety” and found the pair guilty.

They are expected to go before the court for sentencing in coming days, but face up to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission denounced the ruling as persecutory and worried for the implications it could have in other parts of Africa.

“This ruling jeopardises the human rights of all Malawians, and in a context of escalating persecution of LGBT Malawians damages life-saving efforts to address HIV/AIDS,” IGLHRC Human Rights Officer Chivuli Ukwimi said.

“The ruling is a part of a broader pattern of mounting pressure and persecution on LGBT people by authorities in Malawi, which has come from the highest levels of government,” he said, referring to comments from the country’s President Bingu wa Mutharika who recently labelled homosexuality as evil and un-Malawian.

Outrage UK has begun to collect donations for the Centre for the Development of People – one of the only Malawi-based human rights organisations which has begun to agitate for the acceptance of GLBT people.

info: For more information on CEDEP and to make a donation visit www.cedepmalawi.org.

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