Malawi Gay Couple Gets Presidential Pardon

June 7th, 2010

Gay couple is pardoned and free to go, but an angry, homophobic crowd is outside the window.

After intense international pressure, the president of Malawi has pardoned a couple sentenced to jail for 14 years simply because they were gay.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalang were arrested in December while celebrating their recent engagement. The two were charged with “unnatural acts” and given the maximum prison sentence by a judge just last month.

While the pardoning is generally good news, it does not change Malawi law, which still makes homosexuality a crime—and Malawi’s Minister of Gender and Children has stated that the couple will be re-arrested if they stay together. Worse still, homophobia is rampant in Malawi and the Malawian press has made the case somewhat of a hot issue.

Britain has reportedly offered asylum for the couple—a welcome bit of irony, since virtually all of Africa’s laws outlawing homosexuality are legal relics from Britain’s colonization of the continent.