Following Malawi's first same-sex wedding on Saturday, the newlyweds were jailed for "gross indecency":
Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza must have known the likely outcome of the ceremony: homosexuality and sodomy are illegal in Malawi, and punishable by up to 14 years in jail. And the timing was no accident: Uganda has recently proposed an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would condemn convicted homosexuals with life imprisonment or death, as in the Sudan. Meanwhile, Senegal and Burundi have both publicly cracked down on homosexuality (already illegal in 37 African nations). And in general southern Africa, not incidentally with the vocal encouragement of US-based Christian evangelical groups, is a dangerous region to be openly gay. Thus, the couple's ceremony was an exercise in protest as well as commitment: a public statement of sorts.
The Malawi law society has publicly called the wedding "against the order of nature," and the couple will come up for trial shortly. In 2006, the Anglican Church posted Bishop Nick Henderson, a cleric known for his support of gay rights, to head a Malawian diocese; the move led to protests and, ultimately, the death of a parishioner. Since then, the country has become more conservative. But the hundreds of attendees at the ceremony - and the outcry the arrests are drawing - may have already made their point.
Two Gay Weddings On Two Continents, But Only One Happy Ending [Guardian]
Men Wed In Malawi's First Gay Ceremony, Risk Arrest [Reuters]
The U.S. Christian Right And The Attack On Gays In Africa [Huffington Post]
Anti-Gay Bigots Plunge Africa Into New Era Of Hate Crimes [Guardian]
Why Is Uganda Attacking Homosexuality? [CNN]
Activists Denounce Uganda's Homosexuality Bill [Guardian]