We spent hours yesterday collecting letters from people at Birmingham Pride on the case the Malawian gay couple sentenced to 14 years hard labour in prison. It seems the Malawian authorities fearing the deluge of letters from Birmingham, UK changed their minds and have now pardoned them. In reality I think the visit of Ban Ki-Moon was the reason for the decision being made yesterday. However, external pressure played a role and our work as Amnesty activists has contributed to this (our work didn’t start yesterday). The BBC report can be seen at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/10190653.stm – I say in the spirit of Peter Bennenson who launched Amnesty 49 years ago on Friday lets raise a toast to freedom 🙂
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour after being convicted of ‘gross indecency’ and ‘unnatural acts’. This sentence is an outrage. These men are prisoners of conscience and we will continue to campaign for them to be freed.
Take action now at http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682
Last night I attended the Central Birmingham Amnesty International group meeting. The guest speaker at the meeting was Kim Manning-Cooper who is Amnesty International UK’s Campaign Manager for both LGBT Rights and the Death Penalty.
The three main countries that AIUK are taking action on currently are Lithuania, Malawi and Turkey. Kim explained why these three countries are important. Lithuania has been important because it has introduced section 28 style legislation relating to the promotion of homosexuality. It has also recently seen Baltic Pride which took place last weekend after overcoming a legal challenge to the march. Amnesty activists from around the world took part in order to show solidarity and a photo is shown above. Activists from the UK including Kim and AIUK Director, Kate Allen, took part.
Malawi is important because two men have been arrested for holding a traditional engagement ceremony. If convicted they face up to fourteen years imprisonment with hard labour. This made me realise how lucky we are to live in such a tolerant and open society in the UK. You can write a letter on this case at http://amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682
Finally we had another piece of good news from Turkey where a judge had ruled that the LGBT organisation Black Pink Triange good stay open. The judge said it was because LGBT people also have the right of association so ruled against the application to close it.
For more information on Amnesty’s work on LGBT rights see www.amnesty.org.uk/lgbt
Central Birmingham Amnesty International are currently preparing to take part in Birmingham Pride Parade and collect letters for the Malawi case in the LGBT trust community tent on Saturday 29th May. To find out more contact them at email@example.com or visit their blog at www.amnestybrum.wordpress.com – everyone welcome.
On 26 December 2009, two Malawian men, Steven Monjeza (26) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (20), were arrested allegedly for holding a traditional engagement ceremony (Chinkhoswe) in Blantyres township of Chirimba.
They have been charged with unnatural offences and indecent practices between males. If convicted, they face up to 14 years in prison with hard labour. The two men were beaten while in police custody.
Amnesty International considers both men prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for their perceived consensual same sex relationship, and has urged the Malawian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the two men.
To find out more see http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682