Steven Monjeza and Dorothy Gulo

One of the Malawian men arrested last year for getting engaged to another man has announced that he now planning to marry a woman.

Steven Monjeza told reporters that he has left his partner Tiwonge Chimbalanga and is now in a relationship with Dorothy Gulo, a 24 year woman from Blantyre.

“I have had enough. I was forced into the whole drama and I regret the whole episode. I want to live a normal life… not a life where I would be watched by everyone, booed and teased,” he said.

Monjeza asserted that he had been forced to hold a news conference after he and Chimbalanga were released: “Although I claimed that I still love Tiwo, I did not mean it,” he said. “I have never had sex with him as was revealed in court.”

Chimbalanga responded by saying: “You cannot force love, and nobody forced him when we did our symbolic wedding in December.”

He added: “I will also marry my man of my life. There are lots of good men around. I will remain a gay.”

Peter Tatchell, of the gay rights group Outrage! said: “It is a tragedy that homophobic threats and abuse have forced this couple apart. They were deeply in love. The pressure has got to Steven. Very understandably, he wants a quiet, safe life. This would not be possible if he remained with Tiwonge. They would both be at risk of violent attack.”

“I was in communication with Steven and Tiwonge for over four months, via prison visitors who I arranged to deliver them food, medicine, shoes and clothes. In messages passed to me by the prison visitors, the couple affirmed their love. I believe it was genuine affection and commitment,” added Tatchell.

Monjeza and Chimbalanga remained in jail from the time of their arrest in December 2009 until their eventual pardon at the end of May this year by President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Their story became an international phenomenon with governments, organisations and celebrities around the world putting pressure on the Malawian government to free the couple.

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