Malawi recently made news when its President, Bingu wa Mutharika, condoned the establishment of a gay rights organization. This green light was particularly remarkable in the South African country because homosexuality is illegal there. Those convicted of homosexuality can be sentenced up to 14 years hard labor.
Now, Malawi is making gay news again, only this time because magistrate, Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa, refused bail to two men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, charged with public indecency after holding a marriage ceremony. The rationale for the refusal of bail used by Usiwausiwa is that it is unsafe to allow the couple out of prison because people are angry with them. However, in a recent interview, the men advised that they have already been beaten in prison. So much for the magistrate’s worry over the safety of the men.
The couple is the first of its kind [gay] to marry in the country; however, such marriages are not legally recognized in Malawi. Of course, public indecency is a different charge than homosexuality; therefore, the government must gather more evidence against the men before they can be charged with homosexuality (more specifically, with having gay sex). How does a government gather evidence to convict the men? Simple, they send them for medical exams to determine whether or not intercourse has occurred.
NOTE: Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a 20 year old biological male who dresses as a woman. It is unknown whether Chimbalanga identifies as male or female.