Tiwonge Chimbalanga, one half of the Malawian queer couple that was sentenced to 14 years in prison and then released, is seeking asylum in Canada, reports the Panafrican News Agency:
’Yes, Tiwonge will be going to Canada to settle,’ Maxwell Manda, a
cousin of Chimbalanga, told PANA in an exclusive interview Thursday, adding ‘he is just finalizing travel documents.’
PANA reports that the news was also confirmed by an activist at Malawi’s Centre for the Development of People.
Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were arrested in December 2009 after they held a symbolic engagement ceremony. They were charged under the country’s sodomy and indecency laws, and they were sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour.
Following international pressure, Malawi’s president reluctantly pardoned the couple. Chimbalanga and Monjeza split shortly after their release.
The Dec 28, 2009 issue of Malawian newspaper The Nation. Pictured: Monjeza (left) and Chimbalanga (right).
(Note: Most media reports, including the PANA story linked above, continue to refer to the couple as “gay” and “two men.” In an interview with the The Times, Chimbalanga, dressed in a blouse, told a reporter: “I am a woman.” South Africa’s Gender DynamiX has more.)