SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. Our name is drawn from the section in the South African Constitution which enshrines everyone's right to health care, food, water and social security.
The Treatment Action Campaign(TAC) , SECTION27, the Social Justice Coalition, Community Media Trust and the Coalition Against Discrimination welcome the release and pardon of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza in Malawi. They were arrested in December 2009 after getting engaged and sentenced in May 2010 to 14 years imprisonment for ‘gross indecency and unnatural acts’.
Leading activist organisations have condemned the cruel sentence by a Malawian magistrate imposed on Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, two men (one of whom is transgender and identifies as a woman) because they held a public engangement. They have been sentenced to 14 years in hard labour.
We condemn in the strongest terms the 14 years of hard labour sentence handed down by a court in Blantyre to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga for committing so-called “unnatural acts”. Steven and Tiwonge were arrested in December 2009 after celebrating their engagement and have been in jail ever since.
Following the initiation of legal proceedings, on 7 May 2010, the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) has agreed to permit the AIDS Law Project (ALP) to reserve the name SECTION27, incorporating the AIDS Law Project.
CIPRO initially refused to reserve the name, SECTION27, incorporating the AIDS Law Project, explaining as follows, “your proposed name connote government patronage. The wording employed to serve as a name, cannot be allowed and are calculated to cause damage, moreover misleading and damaging”. CIPRO also refused our request on the basis of a comparison with existing names on its database, however, they bore no resemblance to the requested name.
Fourteen years ago, our freely elected representatives adopted the Constitution – in part – to “free the potential of each person”, “[h]eal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”.