Malawian gay couple pardoned after global concern

By staff writers
30 May 2010

President Bingu of Malawi has pardoned the couple, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were recently senenced to 14 years hard labour on charges of homosexuality.

Peter Tatchell, the British human rights campaigner who has championed Steven and Tiwonge's case and supported them personally, arranging prison visits, food parcels and medicine, said: "Our thanks to President Bingu and Ban Ki Moon for ending this terrible injustice."

He added: "Steven and Tiwonge should never have been arrested, let alone jailed for five months, convicted and sentenced to 14 years hard labour. They love one another and have harmed no one."

"I hope the government of Malawi will now show true humanitarian leadership by repealing the criminalisation of homosexuality and enacting laws to protect gay people against discrimination and hate crimes, as South Africa has done," he declared.

"As someone who supported the people of Malawi in the 1970s and 80s, when they struggled against the dictatorship of Dr Hastings Banda, I urge the Malawian government to continue the transition to democracy and human rights by ensuring equality for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens," said Mr Tatchell.

Amnesty International, a variety of other civil rights groups, South Africa's Anglican bishops, the former Church of England Bishop of Southwark, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia are among those who have made representations on the issue.

[Ekk/3]

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