Thursday, May 20, 2010

ROB BLOG # 69

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza live in Malawi- an African Nation.
I’ve been thinking about them all day.
They have been thrown in a jail in Malawi for 14 years.
Their crime?
L O V E .
That’s it.
Tiwonge-33-and Steven-26, are a Gay couple who were arrested in late December after they had announced their engagement as a couple. The story found its way to the front page of a local newspaper. Now, instead of a long, happy life together, the next 14 years could be pure hell.

The couple were handcuffed, chained and taken from a court to a jail for their 14 year term of hard labour.
As they were taken away outside the courtroom onlookers yelled things like:
“You got what you deserve”
“You should get 50 years!”
All because two men found each other and fell in love. These archaic laws date from the colonial era.
Although this case has drawn attention world-wide and has ignited debate in this conservative, mostly Christian southern African country- Tiwonge and Steven are in prison. After the Magistate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa’s verdict, the harsh sentence was passed for “unnatural acts and gross indecency”. This is a transcript of what this learned judge said:

“Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases. We are sitting here to 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 or conducting engagement ceremonies.”

Clergy in Blantyre (Malawi) have united in condemning Tiwonge and Steven. One minister says:
“God calls homosexuality an abomination, which is greater than a simple sin. These two must repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Otherwise, they will surely go to hell.” 

In this African Nation, nothing less could be expected.
The lawyer for the couple- Mauya Msuku, has said there would be an appeal. Amnesty International, two MPs from Britain and Washington’s secretary of state all expressed objections. In fact Britain sends large government donations to Malawi. Why aren’t they cut off- immediately? I haven’t read any statement from Ottawa’s Conservatives so far.
I’m still looking.
I really don’t expect one.
I fear that many elected Conservatives would lie somewhere between-
“Totally agree with the punishment to somewhat disagree”.
I know.
That’s an awful thing to say but with the abortion debate raging again in Ottawa- thanks to the Tories, how far away can another debate on Gay Marriage be?

Although it has nothing to do with this particular story, I read this quote today. It’s from a theologian who lived in the 1700’s. He said:

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction”.

Meanwhile these two young men in their 20’s are living in the hell of a Malawian Prison.
Unfortunately, being Gay or Lesbian is still illegal in as many as 37 African Countries. In Uganda- for example, a bill is being considered where repeat “Homosexual” offenders could be put to death.

I thank my lucky stars I live in Canada. My husband and I surpassed our 25th Anniversary last month. The last four just as legal- Provincially and Federally, as the couple next door or a neighbour down the street. It makes last year’s episode of raw eggs tossed at our house and the word “Faggots” yelled at us, quite tame in comparison to the ordeal these boys are facing.

What can I do to help? What can you do?
If I were to pick up a phone, who would I call?
Where should I write?
At this point, I don’t know.

Meanwhile in Malawi, Leaders in the faith community have described the government’s intentions to institute a law that bans polygamy, as being against religious and cultural beliefs. Religious Leaders were responding to reports that Malawi will soon have a law that will deem it criminal to have more than three or four wives!

I only wish I could snap my fingers and have Tiwonge and Steven come to Canada and live the lives they were meant to live.

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