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Men Sentenced To 14 Years In Malawi Prison -- For Being Gay

May 19 2010, Published 9:55 a.m. ET

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Two gay Malawi men were sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labor Thursday, and has all the info for you.

The men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, held a party celebrating their engagement as a couple at a Malawi hotel December 26, 2009; they were arrested the next day on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency.

The judge who presided over the case, Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa, said he gave the couple the maximum sentence partially to make an example out of them.

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"Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases," he said during the sentencing. "We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies."

Thirty-seven African countries, Malawi included, consider homosexuality a crime.

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Ironically, Malawi is the same country whose officials have ignored the country’s adoption rules to enable Madonna -- an iconic figure in the gay community  -- to adopt two children from the impoverished nation. The pop star last month footed a $15 million bill to build Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, a educational institution set to open next year.



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