Now that Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, have been freed, it’s all sunshine and rainbows for the queer Malawian couple, yes? Oh, silly optimists.
Though they’re out of jail, this pair has plenty of hardships ahead. They’re returning home to their separate villages, as per prison officials’ orders, and their families aren’t too keen on seeing them reunite. Meanwhile, in case you couldn’t tell from the cheering crowds that surrounded them during their arrest and court dates, their neighbors aren’t too thrilled about their disgusting relationship — with Monjeze laying down with that transgender woman.
And then there are just day-to-day concerns. Steven Monjeza says he “need[s] money” just to survive, having just been released from prison. And while Madonna may be elated about their release, where can these two men go now that they’re internationally known and still living in a country that criminalizes the way they love?
President Bingu Wa Mutharika, who pardoned the two men after their conviction by a judge, faces his own brand of pressure — from critics who wonder why he’s letting these two queers off the hook but not others. It would be a terrible outcome if Monjeza and Chimbalanga are released, but other LGBTs there feel an even harsher wrath as Mutharika works to beef up his anti-queer reputation.