The BBC reports the depressing news that Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour following their conviction for “gross indecency” and “unnatural acts”.
The British Government’s response has done us proud, as a nation:
In a joint statement Henry Bellingham, FCO Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, and Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equality at the Home Office said:
‘We are deeply dismayed by the conviction for buggery and indecent practices of Mr Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Mr Steven Monjeza. We are also very concerned by the allegations of their mistreatment in police custody.
Malawi has made significant progress on human rights in recent years. The Government has signed up to international human rights treaties and Malawi’s constitution protects the rights of all its citizens. Infringement of these rights is intolerable. The conviction and sentencing to the maximum 14 years’ imprisonment of Mr Chimbalanga and Mr Monjeza, runs counter to a positive trend.
Britain has a close and strong partnership with Malawi and it is in this spirit that we raise our concerns. The UK believes that human rights apply to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The UK urges the Government of Malawi to review its laws to ensure the defence of human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds. The UK, along with our international partners, will continue to press the Government of Malawi on this issue.’
There is also this, in the Coalition’s “Programme for Government“:
We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.
We will use our relationships with other countries to push for unequivocal support for gay rights and for UK civil partnerships to be recognised internationally.
This is an impressive result. Britain should be a haven for those who cherish liberty, not for those who seek to destroy it. Let us hope that this will be enough to save Kiana Firouz, on whom we reported yesterday.