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Malawi Gay Couple Sentenced To 14 Years Of Hard Labor Are We Here In America All That Much Better?

Updated on May 29, 2010

According to Associated Press writer Raphael Tenthani in an article dated May 20, 2010, after having an engagement party at the end of December 2009, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza from Malawi were arrested, convicted and have now been sentenced to 14 years of hard labor. This is the maximum sentence that can be applied for “unnatural acts and gross indecency” according to the laws of this land. And as I read about these men being led from the court room to jeers from onlookers screaming that they should have gotten more years I couldn’t help but think, Malawi gay couple sentenced to 14 years of hard labor are we here in American all that much better when it comes to gay rights? – Don’t Get Me Started!

No one was surprised by the verdict or the sentence and the human rights organizations that always try to intervene have begun the process to assist these men. So all we can do as most say is, “Put our trust in the Lord that justice will eventually be served.” Wow, I can all ready feel the hair standing up on the backs of necks across America as I mention the “Lord” – after all, so many of the Christian Right have made it very clear that the “Lord” is theirs alone. Sure they tell you that Jesus loves you and will forgive you your sins if you fall on your knees and worship him and allow Him into your heart but let’s face it, with all the fear of the Lord they have and propagate they really think their devotion and their cash will not only get them a better pew when it comes time to do their time in the afterlife but allows them a sole property to rights to the “Lord.” But that’s not what this blog is about.

I began to think of the movie, “Gentlemen’s Agreement” the movie starring Gregory Peck about anti-Semitism but more about the scene where Gregory Peck’s Jewish friend played by John Garfield addresses Peck’s fiancé, Kathy played by Dorothy McGuire who has described being at a dinner party where a man made a joke about Jews, here’s a transcript version of the script (written by Moss Hart) from www.script-o-rama:

Kathy: At dinner a man told a vicious story. I was ill with shame.

Dave: What kind of story, Kathy?

Kathy: Oh, it was just a story.

Dave: Suppose you tell me.

Kathy: Well, it was just a vulgar little joke. It has nothing to do with this.

Dave: Maybe it has. What kind of joke? I can take naughty words.

Kathy: But why? Oh, all right. It was a man named Lockhardt and he tried to get laughs with words like kike and coon. I despised him, and everyone else…

Dave: What did you do when he told the joke?

Kathy: What do you mean?

Dave: I mean, what did you say when he finished?

Kathy: I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to leave. I wanted to say to everyone, “Why do we take it? When he’s attacking everything we believe in? Why don’t we call him on it?”

Dave: What did you do?

Kathy: I just sat there. I felt ashamed. We all just sat there.

Dave: Yeah. And then you left and got me on the phone.

Kathy: Later, after dinner was over I said I was ill and I am.

Dave: I wonder if you’d feel so sick now, Kathy if you had nailed him. There’s a funny kind of elation about socking back. I learned that a long time ago. Phil’s learned it.

Kathy: And I haven’t?

Dave: Lots of things are pretty rough, Kathy. This is just a different kind of war.

Kathy: And anybody who crawls away is a quitter just as much as…

Dave: I didn’t say that. You did. Somebody told a story. Sure, a man at a dinner table told a story and the nice people didn’t laugh. They even despised him, sure. But they let it pass.

Kathy: Behind that joke there’s Flume Inn (A “restricted” hotel in the film that doesn’t allow Jews to stay as guests – yes, this really happened in our history of America) and Darien and Tommy and those kids. If you don’t stop with that joke, where do you stop? Is that what you mean?

Dave: That’s right

So while we here in our comfy American homes sit back and think we’re so much better than the world at large and that gays should just shut up all ready because at least they’re not being jailed here in America, is that really something to be celebrated or hang our red, white and blue top hat on? And the last time you were in a group of people and the “funny guy” in the crowd talked with a lisp and bent his wrist down what did you do?

I’m the largest proponent you’ll find for finding humor as a way to deal with life but when I saw the photos of these two men in shackles simply because they love one another and want to share their lives I couldn’t help but think not only about the party “gay joke” people but the people who have stopped gays from being allowed to be recognized as married or obtaining equal rights in this country. No, we weren’t sentenced to 14 years of hard labor and we’re not in physical jails due to our gayness but we’re in a jail that has been created by the so-called religious (that is not supposed to have anything to do with our government). Allowed to walk free but not love freely and be recognized for our commitment to one another. So I think it’s time for America to get off its high horse of “we’re doing better than most countries” and start living up to the mottos, “The home of the free and the brave” “And liberty and justice for all.” Malawi gay couple sentenced to 14 years of hard labor, are we here in American all that much better when it comes to gay rights? – Don’t Get Me Started!

Read More Scott @

Updated 5/29/10

And sometimes people come to their senses and do the right thing...from CNN

The president of Malawi has pardoned two gay men who were sentenced to 14 years in prison this month for gross indecency and unnatural acts, the country's solicitor general, Anthony Kamanga, said Saturday.

Steven Mojenza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, both in their 20s, were arrested in December at their home in Blantyre, Malawi, for professing their love in a traditional engagement ceremony.

They were rounded up after news reports surfaced, charged under colonial-era sodomy laws and detained at Chichiri prison without bail.

The arrests received some popular support in the conservative southern African nation, but sparked condemnation by gay-rights activists. Human-rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for the couple's release.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, as it is in most African nations, and government officials have said they are simply upholding the law. Activists in Malawi, however, say they are violating the country's constitution, which outlaws discrimination.

The Malawi Law Society said the prosecution of the two men was driven by prejudice, not jurisprudence.


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    • profile image

      icountthetimes 5 years ago

      I think worldwide there's still quite some way to go until gay people are treated how they deserve to be. Some European nations appear to be at the forefront and often treat sexuality with indifference, but we're still not quite there yet in terms of accpetance and fair treatment. When people are still getting imprisoned in some nations for being gay and kids are killing themselves because of the shame and hatred that's been forced upon them by others, the battle is not won.

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

      Great article. I agree that silence is acquiescence and complicity. Cheers.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 7 years ago from Las Vegas

      thank you!

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      great read this nations is wrong God children are God children sad using of human control over life powerful great work thanks