After fleeing to South Africa in the months after his 14-year prison sentence for homosexuality was reversed in Malawi, Tiwonge Chimbalanga says he has no regrets about his 2009 engagement ceremony there.
“I did nothing wrong not even a tiny bit,” said Chimbalanga, who is a transgender woman. “Even here in South Africa I want to get married and I am going to invite the reporters from Malawi to come and witness for themselves and to report the truth about it. I want the whole world to know because this is not the end.”
Chimbalanga’s comments can in her first press interview after being granted asylum in South Africa, where LGBT people’s rights are protected by the constitution, though definitely not by all of society.
She and partner Steven Monjeza, from whom she has since separated, were led away in handcuffs after being arrested and convicted for holding a traditional engagement ceremony in late 2009.
Chimbalanga told Agence France-Presse:
“I had mixed feelings because on the one hand I felt it was a wonderful thing for me to do a normal, natural thing like getting married, whilst on the other hand it was very painful.
“I was beaten in prison. During the trial the security guards ill-treated me. I was verbally abused and suffered all sorts of inhumane treatments, I have scars from the beatings. Yet I felt good that I was able to do what I wanted to do.”
“I want everyone to have their human rights and freedom to choose what they want to be and the only way to achieve that is by coming out and claiming their rights.”
The new president of Malawi, Joyce Banda, has called for repeal of the country’s anti-homosexuality law, and a moratorium has been imposed on enforcement of it.
As reported in Capital Lifestyle in Kenya, AFP said that Chimbalanga hid in a safe house for month before reaching South Africa. She now lives in a “new one-room home, reached by an outdoor staircase lined with pot plants.”
- No regrets for Malawian jailed for gay wedding (Capital Lifestyle)
- Malawian Jailed For 2010 Gay Wedding: ‘I Have No Regrets’ (towleroad.com)
- Malawi is homophobic, but is learning about gays (76crimes.com)
- Moratorium on gay arrests in Malawi (November 2012) (76crimes.com)
- Malawi suspends anti-gay laws (csmonitor.com)
- Malawi president aims to repeal anti-homosexuality law (May 2012) (76crimes.com)