21 Mar 2010

Malawi gay trial protest 22 March: Free Tiwonge and Steven

Reminder: We hope to see you and your friends on Monday

Steven and Tiwonge are appealing for Londoners to support them, as
they face a lengthy jail sentence.

Show that you support them. Love is no crime.

Malawi gay trial protest 22 March: Free Tiwonge and Steven

Drop the charges and repeal anti-gay laws

Commonwealth must condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi

London - 21 March 2010

You are urged to join the protest against the arrest, trial and imprisonment of the Malawian couple, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, on charges of homosexuality. They face up to 14 years jail.

Please copy this email to all your friends, and ask them to attend.

Monday 22 March
12.30pm to 2pm

Commonwealth head office, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX.

By the corner of Pall Mall and St James's Street. See this map:
http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&source=hp&q=commonwealth%20secretariat%20london&aql=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

Nearest tubes: Green Park, Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus

If you cannot attend, please this week send a message of protest to Dr. Francis Moto, High Commission of Malawi, 70 Winnington Road, London N2 0TX, Phone: 020 8455 5624, Fax: 020 3235 1066, Email: malawihighcom@btconnect.com

Monday's protest is timed to coincide with the verdict in Steven and Tiwonge's trial. The verdict is expected the same day.

The demonstration has two themes:

1) Release Tiwonge and Steven, drop the charges, repeal anti-gay laws
2) The Commonwealth must condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi

The protest is sponsored by OutRage!, Gay Activists Alliance International, Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, Red Room, Rukus! Foundation and an informal coalition of black and African LGBT activists in London.

Prominent LGBT black and African campaigners backing the protest include, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, Dennis Carney, Ted Brown, Topher Campbell, Godwyns Onwuchekwa and Skye Chirape.

"We want Steven and Tiwonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi's anti-homosexuality laws. These laws violate the equality and non-discrimination provisions of Article 20 of the Malawian Constitution and Articles 2, 3 and 4 and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold," said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is co-organising next Monday's protest.

"This protest has been organised in response to an appeal for help from the jailed men.
From their prison cell in Malawi, Steven and Tiwonge have sent a message to me, urging more international pressure to secure their release.

"For the last two months, OutRage! has arranged prison visits and the delivery of food and spending money to Tiwonge and Steven."

Malawi is a member of the Commonwealth, the international association of mostly former British colonies.

"The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has failed to speak out loudly against the arrest and jailing of Steven and Tiwonge, even though equality and human rights are supposed to be key Commonwealth principles," added Mr Tatchell.

See here:
http://www.thecommonwealth.org/Internal/191086/191247/the_commonwealth/

and here:
http://www.thecommonwealth.org/files/36123/FileName/harare.pdf

"His silence is collusion with homophobia. As far as we can see, Mr Sharma is failing to oppose the persecution of Steven and Tiwonge. He is doing nothing to defend LGBT human rights anywhere. He appears to reject the idea that gay rights are human rights.

"Of the 53 Commonwealth member states, over 40 still criminalise same-sex relations, mostly under anti-gay laws that were originally imposed by the British government in the nineteenth century, during the period of colonial rule.

"These homophobic colonialist laws, which were retained after independence, are wrecking the lives of LGBT people throughout the Commonwealth. They criminalise otherwise law-abiding citizens and contribute to a hostile social atmosphere which demonises LGBT people as unnatural, abnormal, inferior and criminal.

"It is outrageous that nearly all Commonwealth member states persecute same-sex partners, with penalties ranging up to life imprisonment for consenting gay sex between adults in private. Even more outrageous, the Commonwealth is saying and doing nothing of substance to defend its LGBT citizens," concluded Mr Tatchell.

Further information: Peter Tatchell - 0207 403 1790

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