Drop the charges and repeal anti-gay lawsCommonwealth must condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi
You are invited to join the protest against the arrest, trial and imprisonment of the Malawian same-sex couple, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, on charges of homosexuality. They face up to 14 years jail.
Monday 22 March
12.30pm to 2pm
Commonwealth Secretariat's head office, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. By the corner of Pall Mall and St James's Street.
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(at)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 protest is sponsored by OutRage!, Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, Red Room, Rukus Foundation, Gay Activists Alliance International 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."
Monday's protest has two themes:
1) Free Tiwonge and Steven, drop the charges, repeal anti-gay laws
2) The Commonwealth must condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi
Malawi is a member of the Commonwealth.
"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.
"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