Malawi pardons jailed gay couple

MALAWI’S President has pardoned a gay couple who had been jailed for 14 years for holding the country’s first same-sex wedding.

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

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

Mr Ban praised the decision as “very courageous”, adding: “This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist.”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.

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