Jean wrote this letter to The Guardian and The Independent in reponse to news that a gay Malawian couple could face up to 14 years in jail after staging an open engagement ceremony.
It is cruelly ironic that in a week where we have celebrated diversity through Monday’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) two Malawian men are facing 14 years in prison purely because of their sexuality.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga did nothing wrong but to declare their love for one another in front of friends and family with an open engagement ceremony. Refused bail on the tenuous claim that it was “for their own good”, they have spent five months incarcerated in a maximum security prison, received deaths threats and there are even reports of beatings. The charges they faced are outdated: no-one was harmed. The only victims are the men themselves and the many others who may now face similar charges.
A violent breach of human rights, this sad case serves as a stark reminder, that while the UK and many other countries have made significant progress in creating equality before the law, thousands of citizens all over the world still suffer homophobic attacks, abuse, mistreatment and discrimination. We must do all we can to ensure all LGBT individuals live free from oppression and fear and I urge the Malawi Government to repeal their archaic laws.
Jean Lambert MEP,
Green Party, London