- Southern Africa
Malawi gay couple found guilty under colonial era laws
A gay black couple in Malawi accused of "unnatural offences" and "indecent practices between males", that is, homosexuality, have been found guilty today by a judge under archaic colonial era laws.
Reports from Malawi indicate that Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20 where found guilty by Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa.
Homosexual acts in Malawi carry a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. The gay couple will receive their sentences on Thursday
The pair were arrested in December, a day after they celebrated their engagement with a party that drew crowds of curious onlookers.
The gay couple, according to reports, did not deny their sexual orientation, but hold they have a constitutional right not to be discriminated against.
Since their arrest, the two have been subjected to inhumane treatments, according to their lawyers.
They reportedly have been beaten several times and subjected to forced anal examinations to "confirm" sodomy charges.
Malawi church leaders have backed the government, saying homosexuality is "sinful" and the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force Malawi to accept homosexuality, reports say.
Malawi relies on donors for 40 percent of its development budget.
Malawi is a deeply conservative country, where modern impulses and values were held back for decades during the late Kamuzu Banda dictatorship.
The authorities recognise the existence of gays in Malawi and often call on them to come out in order to help fight AIDS in a country where 12 percent of adults have HIV.
Their sentence could hamper the fight against HIV/AIDS, in a region that has been ravaged by the disease.