Malawian president pardons gay couple after UN meeting

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The Independent Online

The President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, yesterday pardoned a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in jail, after he held a meeting with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. "These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws. However, as the head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions," Mr wa Mutharika said after the meeting in the capital, Lilongwe.

"I have done this on humanitarian grounds, but this does not mean that I support this," he added.

Mr Ban, who was due to address the National Assembly later, is expected to ask legislators to change the laws on homosexuality.

Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were arrested after celebrating their engagement in a ceremony in December. They were tried and found guilty of sodomy and indecency earlier this month in a trial viewed as a test case for gay rights in the southern African country.