Gay couple given maximum 14 years in Malawi

A judge sentenced a gay couple who tried to marry to the maximum 14 years in prison with hard labour, and crowds jeered the two men as they were driven to jail yesterday.

The harsh sentence for unnatural acts and gross indecency had been expected after Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were convicted earlier this week. They were arrested in December after they celebrated their engagement with a party.

"Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases," magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa said. "We... represent the Malawi society which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons."

The men's lawyer, Mauya Msuku, said they would appeal. As armed police officers handcuffed him to Mr Monjeza, Mr Chimbalanga told reporters: "I am not worried." Mr Monjeza broke down upon hearing the ruling and was still sobbing as he was helped into the van. AP

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