JOHANNESBURG -- A gay couple in Malawi were found guilty on Tuesday of unnatural acts and gross indecency, the consequence of their holding an engagement ceremony in an insular nation where homosexuality is largely seen as nonexistent or something that must be suppressed.
Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 33, and Steven Monjeza, 26, face up to 14 years in prison. A magistrate said he would sentence the men on Thursday.
The case has drawn worldwide attention as another example of the broad anti-gay sentiment in Africa. A law recently proposed in Uganda calling for homosexuals to be executed in some cases stirred so much ire in the West that a presidential committee recommended withdrawing it from Parliament.
Malawi, a deeply impoverished, landlocked nation of 14 million, has also received international condemnation for prosecuting the two gay men. But most of its leaders — political and religious — have reacted with defiance. Last month, President Bingu wa Mutharika was quoted as calling homosexuality “evil and bad before the eyes of God” and an act “we Malawians just do not do.”
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