Malawi Leader Pardons Jailed Gay Couple
He orders their immediate release
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Suggested by Disillusioned
Posted May 29, 2010 10:26 AM CDT
Tiwonge Chimbalanga, right, and Steven Monjeza, left back, are led from court in Blantyre, Malawi, on May 20.   (AP Photo/Alex Ntonya)

(Newser) – Malawi's president says he has pardoned and ordered the release of a jailed gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison. President Bingu wa Mutharika made the announcement today during a press conference with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Lilongwe, the capital. A judge earlier this month convicted and sentenced Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency, both colonial-era laws.

The two were arrested in December, a day after they celebrated their engagement. The case has drawn international condemnation and sparked a debate on human rights in this conservative southern African country. Homosexuality is illegal in at least 37 countries in Africa, including Malawi.