A gay Malawi couple previously sentenced to 14 years in prison for their sexual orientation was pardoned by that African country’s president on May 29.
President Bingu wa Mutharika reluctantly pardoned the men after receiving immense international pressure including a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, AFP reported.
“The story ends there… I don’t want to hear anyone commenting on them. Nobody is authorized to comment on the gays,” Mutharika told reporters. “You will spoil things.”
Though he pardoned the couple, Mutharika said he still believes their wedding was “satanic because they committed a crime against our culture, against our religion and against our laws,” AFP reported.
Nonetheless, the couple said they are happy to have their freedom back.
“The president has demonstrated that he is a caring father, a considerate and tolerant president. We wish him good health in his everyday endeavors as he continues leading the country to respecting human rights and to economic prosperity,” the couple, Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, and Steven Monjeza, 26, said in a statement.
Pop star Madonna also lauded the decision on her Web site, but warned that human and civil rights are still a problem in the African nation.
“We celebrate this astounding turn of events with Steven, Tiwonge, and the countless Malawians fighting for their release,” she said in a statement. “It is a historic day for Malawi.”??“Though they are free from prison, sadly their safety and future in Malawi is still unknown,” she wrote. “I hope this is just the beginning of our work together.”