Magazine article The Christian Century

Malawi President Pardons Engaged Gay Couple

Magazine article The Christian Century

Malawi President Pardons Engaged Gay Couple

Article excerpt

The president of Malawi, under pressure from UN and human rights groups, has pardoned a gay couple who were recently sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment with hard labor after they became engaged in a traditional ceremony.

President Bingu wa Mutharika, speaking as UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon visited his African country May 29, said he ordered their immediate release on humanitarian grounds. Ban called Mutharika's decision "courageous," according to BBC News. "This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist."

Southern Africa's Anglican bishops had called on the government of South Africa to press for the release of the two Malawi men, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20.

The bishops said "we should love one another as he has loved us, without distinction," alluding to Jesus' words in the Gospel of John. Their statement differs from stances taken by churches in Malawi and Uganda that support the jailing of homosexuals. Despite his pardon, the Malawi president said that "in all aspects of reasoning, in all aspects of human understanding, these two gay boys were wrong--totally wrong. …

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