Steven Mojenza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, (right)were arrested in December at their home in Blantyre, Malawi, for professing their love in a traditional engagement ceremony. They were rounded up after news reports surfaced, charged under colonial-era sodomy laws and detained at Chichiru Prison without bail.A statement released by one of the men read, "I love Steven so much. If people or the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless."
Their arrests received some popular support in the conservative southern African nation, but sparked condemnation by gay rights activists and human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which have called for the release of the couple.
"This is an outrageous verdict," said Peter Tatchell, a London-based activist who has been supporting and advocating for the men.
"While Steven and Tiwonge freely confirmed their love for each other, there was no credible evidence that they had committed any illegal homosexual acts," Tatchell said. "With so much hatred and violence in the world, it is bizarre that any court would criminalise two people for loving each other."