Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga
The two Malawian men jailed without bail for being gay have thanked their supporters and affirmed their love for each other, revealed gay rights activist Peter Tatchell from OutRage! on Tuesday.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga’s messages were relayed from inside Chichiri Prison in Blantyre, Malawi, to Tatchell in London.
“I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and eaningless,” Chimbalanga reportedly said.
“We have come a long way and even if our family relatives are not happy, I will not and never stop loving Tiwonge,” said Monjeza.
The men also stressed their gratitude for the support they have received from fellow Malawians and from people around the world:
“We are thankful for the people who have rallied behind us during this difficult time. We are grateful to the people who visit and support us, which really makes us feel to be members of a human family; otherwise we would feel condemned,” said Chimbalanga.
Monjeza added: “We are grateful to everybody who is doing this for us. May people please continue the commendable job. Keep sending some small contribution. The money you send to us is so valuable and it makes such a huge difference between life and death, as prison life is very difficult. With the money we are able to buy some extra food to supplement our intake of the much needed vitamins and proteins.”
Tatchell expressed his admiration for the two men, saying that they had shown immense fortitude and courage.
“They declared their love in a society where many people – not all – are very intolerant and homophobic. This was a very brave thing to do. Although suffering in prison, they are unbowed,” he said.
According to Tatchell, OutRage! is supporting Chimbalanga and Monjeza by sending them extra food to supplement the men’s meagre prison rations.
Earlier reports said that Monjeza was gravely ill. The latest news from an eye-witness about his condition suggests that he has stabilised but remains thin and weak and has jaundiced eyes.
The couple were arrested in late December last year following their public engagement ceremony. They have been refused bail and remain in jail pending the outcome of their case, which could see them face 14 years in prison on charges of “unnatural offences” and “indecent practices between males.”