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Black AIDS Institute Condemns Prison Sentence for Same-Sex Couple in Malawi

May 24, 2010

Black AIDS Institute Condemns Prison Sentence for Same-Sex Couple in Malawi
Los Angeles, CA -- The Black AIDS Institute strongly condemns the recent conviction of Malawian same-sex couple Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. Chimbalanga, 26, and Monjeza, 20, were convicted of "gross indecency" and "unnatural acts" under Malawi's anti-gay legislation. Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa sentenced both men to 14 years in prison as punishment for their alleged "crimes."

The men were arrested and jailed on December 28, 2009, days after they held a party to celebrate their engagement. On January 6, 2009, Chimbalanga and Monjeza were subjected to anal examinations to determine whether or not they had consummated their union. This is in direct violation of the right to freedom from non-consensual medical tests protected under the Constitution of Malawi and International Law. The decision to examine the men is also an extreme violation of human rights. The Black AIDS Institute firmly stands against such malicious and unjust treatment, and calls for the immediate release of both men.

Currently Malawi has over a million people living with HIV and AIDS -- the most common form of transmission is unprotected heterosexual sex. Studies show that new HIV cases of men who have sex with men are on the rise. The stigma and shame that homosexuality carries in many African nations, including Malawi, forces most gay and bisexual men to live in isolation, often resulting in their refusal to get tested and seek treatment for HIV and AIDS, which ultimately leads to higher infection rates.

If an end to the AIDS epidemic is to be realized, then laws criminalizing homosexuality in any form must be repealed and those governments approving such legislature must be held accountable for their actions. The Black AIDS Institute calls for swift action by Malawi's President Bingu Wa Mutharika to release Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza who were convicted for the basic human right to love.

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