US State Department Appalled By Sentencing of Gay Malawian Couple
The US State Department released a statement yesterday condemning the sentencing of a gay Malawian couple to 14 years of hard labor. A court in Malawi found Steven Mojenza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, guilty of "unnatural acts" and "gross indecency" earlier this week.
The statement says, "We view the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity and sentencing to 14 years hard labor as a deeply troubling violation of human rights. Decriminalization of homosexuality is integral to the continued protection of universal human rights in Malawi. It is also crucial to the urgent need to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS - a fight in which the United States is closely allied with the Malawian people."
It continues, "We remain disturbed by harassment, persecution, and exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever it occurs. The State Department will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalize, criminalize, and penalize members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gender community worldwide."
Homosexuality is currently illegal in 37 African countries and legal only in South Africa. Currently in Uganda, the Parliament is still considering legislation that, in its original form, would have imposed life imprisonment as the minimum sentence for being gay and would have allowed for the death penalty.
Media Resources: State Department Press Release 5/20/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/19/10