Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga

There’s been renewed activity to support the gay couple jailed in Malawi, ahead of a verdict which is expected early next week.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga are facing 14 years in prison on charges of homosexuality, after they celebrated their relationship in a public ceremony last December.

Following a campaign by British activist Peter Tatchell, Amnesty International said that it now considers both men “prisoners of conscience” who are “imprisoned solely for their perceived consensual same sex relationship”.

On Tuesday, a group of major aid donors to Malawi, the Common Approach for Budgetary Support (Cabs), said that it was concerned about human rights abuses in the country.

“When we talk about human rights, we do not only talk about the majority but also minority groups like the on-going issue of homosexuals which needs to be looked into thoroughly,” said Cabs Chairman Frank Kufwakwandi in a statement.

Cabs includes the African Development Bank (AfDB), Norway, Britain, Germany, the World Bank, the IMF and the European Commission.

On Wednesday, it was reported that the Malawi Council of Churches held a meeting in the town of Mangochi to “understand the phenomenon” of same sex relationships.

“As churches, we want to come up with one voice on the issue of gays and lesbians,” said Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe.

Meanwhile, it’s been announced that a protest will be held outside the Commonwealth head office in London on Monday. The demonstration has been organised by a number of gay rights group, including Tatchell’s Outrage!

“We want Steven and Tiwonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi’s anti-homosexuality laws,” he said.

Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa is expected to deliver his verdict in the case on Monday.

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