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Malawi president pardons jailed gay couple

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-29

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has pardoned a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in jail for holding the country's first same-sex wedding. The announcement followed talks between the president and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

AFP - Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika Saturday announced the pardon of a gay couple jailed for 14 years for holding the country's first same-sex wedding, following talks with the UN chief.

"I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released," Mutharika told reporters after meeting United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"From a humanitarian point of view, they are released and pardoned forthwith."

"I do appreciate and commend the very courageous decision to pardon these two gay boys," Ban said.

"This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist."

Last week a court sentenced Steven Monjeza, 26, and his 20-year-old partner Tiwonge Chimbalanga to 14 years hard labour for sodomy, after they were arrested on December 28 following a symbolic wedding.

The jailing of the couple was met with outrage and alarm by the United States, European countries and rights groups.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi and a majority of other African countries.

Date created : 2010-05-29

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