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Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Gay Couple in Malawi Pardoned

Heartening news from eastern Africa: the president of Malawi has pardoned the gay couple who were sentenced to 14 years of hard labor.

The BBC reports that President Bingu Wu Mutharika announced the pardon during a visit by UN head Ban ki-Moon. Mutharika seemed to enact the pardon with a sense of duty and under international pressure, still hewing to his country’s discriminatory culture:

“These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws,” he said after meeting Mr Ban.

“However, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions.”

Whether a political move or out of humanitarian largesse, the release of Monjeza and Chimbalanga is welcome news. Perhaps the win for human rights in Malawi will affect the virulently homophobic culture in other African nations.

On a related note, Current television broadcast a fantastic documentary about the anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda called Missionaries of Hate. A thorough, well-researched piece of investigative journalism that I highly recommend.

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Filed under: africa, gay rights, global justice, world, , , , , , , , , , ,

Stripping Human Rights in Malawi

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I’m horrified by the news that Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were sentenced today to 14 years of hard labor for being gay. In Malawi, homosexuality is against the law.

I’m horrified–in place of the sadness I used to feel–because the judge in Malawi who sentenced them was so vitriolic and hateful in his sentencing. Perhaps reflecting public sentiment, Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa said that he wanted to protect the public “from people like you”. Human rights advocates around the world have condemned the act; a U.S. State department official said that the United States was “deeply disappointed” with the conviction.

Many countries on the African continent have searing, anti-gay laws. In Uganda, the proposed law that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death is stalled in parliament. In Nigeria, a college student was clubbed to death because he was gay. And in 36 countries in Africa, being gay is not only a social taboo, it is a crime.

Reminds me, of course, of Oscar Wilde’s sentencing to hard labor more than a century ago for the same crime. With Malawi’s legal stance on homosexuality, what are the implications for gay rights–much less human rights–for other nations in the African continent?

Filed under: africa, gay rights, social justice, , , , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
June 2017
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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