Released based on "humanitarian grounds" only. In the country of Malawi, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza had faced 14 years imprisonment and hard labor just because the 2 are homosexuals - a crime in this South African State. I am thankful for their release but a long way to victory for all gay men and women in this sad and backward homophobic country. Africa has a long way to go for Human Rights!
LANTYRE, Malawi – Malawi's president on Saturday pardoned and ordered the release of a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison, but said that homosexuality remains illegal in this conservative southern African nation.
Activists were searching for a safe house for the couple, fearing they could be attacked upon release.
Malawi has faced international condemnation for the conviction and harsh sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. President Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon, saying it was on "humanitarian grounds only," during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Lilongwe, the capital.
Earlier in the week, the top U.N. AIDS official and the head of an international donor organization met Mutharika in Malawi and expressed concern that criminalizing homosexuality would keep a vulnerable group from seeking HIV/AIDS counseling and treatment.
Joseph Amon of Human Rights Watch said the president was no doubt responding to the international outcry over the case.
"I hope that other leaders of African countries with anti-gay laws see that this is just not acceptable in the international community," Amon told The Associated Press by telephone from New York.
Malawi is among 37 African countries with anti-gay laws.
In Senegal police have rounded up men suspected of being homosexual and beaten them, and a mob last year pulled the corpse of a gay man from his grave, spat on it and dumped it at the home of his elderly parents.
In Zimbabwe this month, two employees of a gay organization spent six days in jail on allegations of possessing indecent material and displaying a placard seen as insulting to President Robert Mugabe, an outspoken critic of homosexuality.
In Uganda, a proposed law would impose the death penalty for some gays.
Even in South Africa, the only country that recognizes gay rights, lesbians have been gang-raped.
In Malawi, a judge convicted and sentenced Chimbalanga and Monjeza earlier this month on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency, both colonial-era laws. They were arrested in December, a day after they celebrated their engagement.
Crowds of Malawians had heckled the two during court hearings, with some saying after they were sentenced to 14 years at hard labor — the harshest possible sentence — that they should be imprisoned longer.
Undule Mwakasungure, a gay rights activist in Malawi, told The AP Saturday he was concerned about the couple's safety, and working with other activists to find a safe house for them and possible arrange for them to leave the country at least temporarily.
"There is homophobic sentiment. I think they might be harmed," Mwakasungure said. Link
There will be no doubt these 2 young men WILL BE HARM!
Relocate them for their protection immediately!
If a society detest a specific population of people and the law did not side with what the society wants and is released - the fringe part of that society with take it upon themselves to "repair' what the law could not. The fringe never see right from wrong and they also don't see the consequences. They will go about to "fix" what they feel is the "justified" thing to do - and that always lead to deadly results.
I do hope for the safety of Chimbalanga and Monjeza.
It goes to show that being gay is not a choice.When society and the law is completely against you, no one chooses to be ridicule, rape, imprison or to die violently. These are the realities for coming out in these God-awful countries with severe anti-gay laws.
Imprisoning or killing Chimbalanga and Monjeza will never end homosexuality - it just silences those who are gay "back into the closet' until the next generation, the next era where the laws are lifted and the presence of homosexuality is accepted or tolerated.