A judge in Malawi has imposed a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison with hard labour on a gay couple convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts. Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, have been in jail since they were arrested in December after holding an engagement ceremony. The British government, Malawi's largest donor, expressed its "dismay" at the sentences, but has not withdrawn aid. The US state department, meanwhile, said the case was "a step backwards in the protection of human rights in Malawi". Handing down sentence in the commercial capital, Blantyre, Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa told the pair: "I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example. The courtroom was packed, and hundreds of people gathered outside the building.
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CNN -- The president of Malawi has pardoned two gay men who were sentenced to 14 years in prison this month for gross indecency and unnatural acts, the country's solicitor general, Anthony Kamanga, said Saturday. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Kamanga said. Authorities arrested Monjeza and Chimbalanga in December at their home in Blantyre, Malawi after the couple professed their love in a traditional engagement ceremony. Police discovered the couple when local newspapers reported on their engagement ceremony. The criminal case against them cast a light on prevailing African attitudes toward homosexuality, which is outlawed in more than 30 nations on the continent.
Malawi pardons jailed gay couple
The same judge found Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, guilty of the crimes earlier this week. The couple was arrested last December after holding a traditional engagement ceremony and have remained in prison since then. The case has drawn international condemnation of anti-homosexuality laws in Malawi, including 65 members of the British Parliament signing a motion condemning the prosecution and the international human rights group Amnesty International adopting the couple as prisoners of conscience. About 40 percent of Malawi's economy is dependent on international aid.
A Malawi high court on Monday began hearing a petition by a leading rights group seeking to obtain the review of jail sentences of three gays and to overturn laws that criminalise homosexuality. In , a magistrate court sentenced Amon Champyuni, Mathew Bello and Mussa Chiwisi to between six years and 12 years in jail with hard labour for unnatural acts and buggery offences. The independent Malawi Law Society, which represents over lawyers in the country, are backing the group in its legal tussle, he said.