from the Associated Press network:
Today, in Blantyre, Malawi, and despite International protests, a judge convicted a gay couple of unnatural acts and gross indecency under laws dating from the colonial era. Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the sentencing will take place on Thursday and they could be imprisoned for up to 14 years.
Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner Steven Monjeza, 26, who were open about their sexuality, were arrested in December the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked — an apparent first in Malawi.
Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa including Malawi. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that could sentence homosexuals to life in prison and includes capital punishment for "repeat offenders." Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have raped lesbians.
Gay people forced underground in Africa are unlikely to seek counseling and treatment for AIDS, activists say. In Malawi, nearly 1 million people — an estimated 12 percent of the population — are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The government, backed by Malawi church leaders, says it is clear the two men broke the law. Religious officials say homosexuality is "sinful" and the West should not be allowed to use its financial power to force Malawi to accept homosexuality. Malawi relies on donors for 40 percent of its development budget.
From the Malawi Tourism site:
The Malawian people are, without doubt, its greatest asset: friendly and welcoming to a fault. Every visitor is met with a smile and the warmth of the welcome is genuine and long-lasting. Alongside a number of places of particular cultural and historical interest, and all travel will include some element of cultural experience as interaction with local people is very much part of any stay.