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May 29, 2010

Malawi couple pardoned by President

Steven-monjeza-and-tiwonge-chimbalanga1

Wonderful news from Peter Tatchell:

Malawi couple pardoned by President

"Justice at last for Steven and Tiwonge"

London - 29 May 2010

President Bingu 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 who has championed Steven and Tiwonge's case and support them personally, arranging prison visits, food parcels and medicine, said

"Our thanks to President Bingu and Ban Ki Moon for ending this terrible injustice. 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," said Mr Tatchell.

ENDS

This has probably saved the life of Steven Monjeza, whose health was failing in Chichiri prison even before his post-sentencing transfer to Zomba Prison, which separated him from Tiwonge who gave him encouragement. Thanks to everyone who raised their voices, especially the matchless Peter Tatchell. We have so much more work to do, but this is a moment of vindication and joy. Chalk one up for the international LGBT community.

Update: Paul Canning reports at LGBT Asylum News.

Update 2: NYT reports, "The White House hopes it's a new day for gay rights in the African nation of Malawi and around the world."

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