Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good News from Malawi!

Malawi frees jailed gay couple World news
A gay couple sentenced to serve 14 years in jail in Malawi have been pardoned and released after their country's president met the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were tried and found guilty of sodomy and indecency earlier this month in a move that sparked international condemnation.
But after talking with Ban today, Malawi's president, Bingu wa Mutharika, announced the pair would be freed. "These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws," he said after the meeting, at the southern African country's State House. "However, as the head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions.
"I have done this on humanitarian grounds, but this does not mean that I support this."
Ban, who is due to address Malawi's national assembly later, is expected to ask legislators to change the nation's laws on homosexuality.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga were arrested two days after they made a public commitment to marriage in a symbolic ceremony at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked as a janitor in late December. They were the first same-sex couple in Malawi to seek marriage.
Passing sentence on them on 20 May, the magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa said: "I will give you a ... sentence so that the public [will] be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example."
The pair were then separated. Sent to prisons more than 40 miles apart, they had little hope of maintaining contact.
High-profile figures who spoke out in support of them include the singer Elton John, the British campaigner Peter Tatchell, of the gay and lesbian human rights group OutRage, and the pop star Madonna, who adopted a child from Malawi. Amnesty International also called the sentences an "outrage".
In South Africa, the new human rights organisation Section27 called on the president, Jacob Zuma, to apply pressure on Malawi through the Southern African Development Community.
This is an instance of the United Nations and its General Secretary doing their job correctly for the promotion of human rights worldwide! Thank you, Mr. Ban Ki-moon!

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