Sunday, 13 June 2010

MaltaStar: Homophobia blamed on Malawi gay couple breakup
09 June 2010 12:22

The Malawi gay couple, who were sentenced to 14 years in prison under Malawi’s anti-homosexual law and freed on “human rights” grounds, have separated with one them planning to marry a woman.

A week after they were released from prison, Steven Monjeza began a relationship with Dorothy Gulo, a 24 year old from Blantyre.

"I have had enough … I was forced into the whole drama and I regret the whole episode. I want to live a normal life ... not a life where I would be watched by everyone, booed and teased,” Mr Monjeza said.

However, his former partner, Tiwonge Chimbalanga, said that the breakup was due to homophobic fear from the community. “I am not worried. You cannot force love, and nobody forced him when we did our symbolic wedding in December."

"I will also marry because there are lots of good men around. I will remain a gay," he told UK newspaper the Guardian.

Monjeza, who lives in Kameza, a village six miles from Blantyre, has been pressurised by relatives to leave and seek a heterosexual relationship instead, the Guardian reports.

His uncle, Khuliwa Dennis Monjeza, has expressed determination to prevent the two men reuniting. Others warned Chimbalanga not to set foot in the village, threatening that they would "deal with him".

Peter Tatchell, of the gay rightsgroup Outrage!, said: "It is a tragedy that homophobic threats and abuse have forced this couple apart. They were deeply in love. The pressure has got to Steven. Very understandably, he wants a quiet, safe life. This would not be possible if he remained with Tiwonge. They would both be at risk of violent attack."

Tatchell, who was in communication with the couple for more than four months via prison visitors he arranged, added: "Tiwonge and Steven never set out to be political, but they have done more for gay and transgender rights in Malawi than anyone else.

"I salute them. They are lions of Africa. They have helped continue the unfinished African liberation struggle by seeking freedom for gay, bisexual and transgender Africans."

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