A gay couple has been arrested in
Malawi after taking part in a symbolic wedding ceremony on Saturday,
the BBC reported. The men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza,
were arrested on Monday and charged with public indecency, police
The AFP reported that hundreds of
people attended the couple's wedding, believed to be the first in the
“I went there to see for myself a gay
couple,” Finiasi Chikaoneka told the news service.
“There were many people who were just
curious about the whole affair because this was the first time that
gays have come out openly,” he added.
Being gay is illegal in Malawi and
punishable with up to 14 years in jail.
Anti-gay sentiment in Africa has risen
to dramatic new highs in recent years, prompting lawmakers to press
for stronger punishments against being gay. A proposed law in Uganda
widely expected to be approved in February would outlaw gay sex and
includes a death provision for repeat offenders and people who are
HIV-positive, increasing the penalties for having gay sex in a
country where it's already banned. The bill also makes the
“promotion of homosexuality” illegal, which would effectively ban
political organizations, broadcasters and publishers that advocate on
behalf of gay rights, and turn friends and family members of gay men
and lesbians into criminals if they fail to report a violation.
anti-gay bill has drawn worldwide outrage.
The men are being held in separate
cells, where they will remain until a court appearance next Monday,