Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gay Couple Sentenced To 14 Years In Jail For... LOVE.

It's too crazy.

But it's happening. Two twenty-something guys fall in love. They invite their friends to a party where, even though gay marriage isn't legal in their country, they can celebrate their engagement.

Word gets out, and the couple is arrested.

And last week, convicted to 14 years of hard labor.

For daring to love each other.

The men are Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, and they are citizens of Malawi, in Africa.

Here's a petition you can sign, urging the President of Malawi to release the two men immediately.

You can also check out and support Amnesty International, which publicizes cases like these and other "prisoners of conscience" around the world - people who are jailed and persecuted unjustly.

My thanks to Andy over at Towleroad for not only sharing what Madonna and President Obama had to say, but for the link to the online petition.

Okay, the first comment of the day from Angie made me look at this story in a whole new light. Rather than a rather clear example of parallels to our struggle for gay marriage in the West, looking closer reveals that this is more rightly labeled a case of "trans-phobia," as even in the New York Times article on this case back in February, they write in the opening paragraph:

BLANTYRE, Malawi — Tiwonge Chimbalanga looked like a man but said he was a woman. He helped with the cooking and dressed in feminine wraparound skirts. Steven Monjeza was a quiet, sullen man often intoxicated on sorghum beer. He said he had never been happy until he finally met the right companion.

But then the article continues to refer to Tiwonge as "Mr. Chimbalanga"

And I'm embarrassed that I didn't dig further and take greater pains to be more accurate. This isn't a story about discrimination about two gay men. It's a story about a transgender person and the man who loved that transgender person - and how their society can't accept their love. I strongly feel that if a person says, (as Chimbalanga did in the NY Times Article)

He explained later: “I have male genitals, but inside I am a complete woman."

The pronoun used should reflect and respect that transgender person's identity. I believe the NY Times would have written:

She explained later: "I have male genitals, but inside I am a complete woman."

So please allow me to correct myself here, with the post that follows!

Thank you, Angie!


Angie said...

Actually, the Western media -- including some GLBT-specific sites which should damn well know better -- deserve to be smacked around on this one too.

These aren't "two men." Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a trans-woman. Tiwonge is a feminine name in Malawi, and Ms. Chimbalanga wears women's clothing and has been working at a traditionally female job, or was until this mess blew up. Gender reassignment clinics not being thick upon the ground in Malawi (or here, for that matter) she's doing the best she can to live as the gender she is.

She was lucky enough to find a man who was willing to accept and love her as a woman, but their society -- citizens as well as government -- couldn't let them be. And now that this has turned into an international news incident, even the supposedly enlightened European and American news sites are misrepresenting the case, and GLBT organizations are using it as an example to further their pet cause of gay marriage rights, when they should be hilighting it as a case of transgender intolerance.

More info:



Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thank you, Angie! I just published a *Correction* of my post.

I'm so grateful you took the time to show me what I had missed in the reporting of this story.

Angie said...

Lee -- you're very welcome, and thanks for responding so quickly. :)