Malawi couple pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika

President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi has pardoned the couple, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were recently senenced to 14 years hard labour on charges of homosexuality.

Peter Tatchell, the British human rights campaigner from OutRage!, who has championed Steven and Tiwonge’s case and supported them personally, arranging prison visitors, food parcels and medicine, said

“Our thanks to President Bingu wa Mutharika for ending this terrible injustice.

“Congratulations to the many Malawians – gay and straight – who opposed the prosecution of this couple and who campaigned for their release. Our gratitude to the Malawian human rights and ngo groups, especially CEDEP, which supported them throughout their ordeal.

“Steven and Tiwonge should never have been arrested, let alone jailed for five months, convicted and sentenced to 14 years hard labour. They love one another and have harmed no one.

“I hope the government of Malawi will now show true humanitarian leadership by repealing the criminalisation of homosexuality and enacting laws to protect gay people against discrimination and hate crimes, as South Africa has done.

“As someone who supported the people of Malawi in the 1970s and 80s, when they struggled against the dictatorship of Dr Hastings Banda, I urge the Malawian government to continue the transition to democracy and human rights by ensuring equality for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

“We are now liaising with Steven and Tiwonge about whether they want to seek asylum abroad and will assist them, whatever they decide,” said Mr Tatchell.