Malawi couple speak about love split
The Malawi couple who were jailed and then pardoned for homosexuality offences have spoken about their split.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were facing 14 years in jail until they were freed last month by the Malawian president.
Yesterday, it was reported they had split up. The pair gave differing accounts of their relationship, while a gay rights campaigner claimed they had been forced apart by homophobia.
Although a local newspaper quoted Mr Monjeza as saying he had been coerced into the marriage ceremony they were arrested for, he told the Guardian he was “no longer in love” with Mr Chimbalanga and was planning a future with a 24-year-old woman called Dorothy.
He said he no longer wanted anything to do with homosexuality.
Mr Chimbalanga said he was “not disappointed” and would find another man to marry.
“There are lots of good men around. I will remain a gay,” he said.
Mr Chimbalanga added: “What you should know is that nobody forced him when we did our symbolic wedding in December.”
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He also claimed Mr Monjeza had been pressured by his relatives to find a woman to marry.
Mr Monjeza’s uncle, Khuliwa Dennis Monjeza, said he would ensure a reunion did not take place and claimed Mr Chimbalanga had been warned to stay away.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said he did not believe Mr Monjeza had fallen in love with another woman and compared the gay couple to ” star-crossed lovers” Romeo and Juliet.
“The couple had been subjected to many death threats and the government had threatened to re-arrest them if they got back together,” he said.
“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.”
“Whatever their feelings for each other now, Steven and Tiwonge have done more for gay and transgender rights in Malawi than anyone else,” he added.