Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga Freed

What great news to wake up to this morning.

Malawai President Bingu wa Mutharika has officially pardoned Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the gay couple who had been sentenced earlier this month to 14 years of hard labor under sodomy and indecency laws. You may remember that they were originally arrested after holding a public wedding ceremony in December.

President wa Mutharika clearly bowed to mounting pressure. His statement, according to the Daily Telegraph:

"These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws, however, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions. I have done this on humanitarian grounds but this does not mean that I support this."


White House Presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs has just released a statement about today's pardon:

"The White House is pleased to learn of President Bingu wa Mutharika's pardon of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza. These individuals were not criminals and their struggle is not unique. We must all recommit ourselves to ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity. We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe."

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  1. Wow - what great news!

    Posted by: steve | May 29, 2010 11:25:38 AM

  2. Ah, soo good!

    Posted by: Rowan | May 29, 2010 11:28:04 AM

  3. good

    "I have done this on humanitarian grounds but this does not mean that I support this." - ugh - had to get one last kick in didn't he?

    Posted by: neverstops | May 29, 2010 11:28:38 AM

  4. Oh happy day!!! I don't care how or why it happened... Just glad it did. And that they'll think twice the next time.

    Posted by: Feral | May 29, 2010 11:31:04 AM

  5. Honnestly that's the best news I heard in a long long long time. Pressure works. It's the first real lgbt victory I heard in months and the first in this region of te world. I'm definitely too happy about this, I'm going Togo read lifesitenews and how much ENDA is progressing that way I'll be outraged again, maybe a statement from FRC if that's not enough.

    Posted by: Esurnir | May 29, 2010 11:33:16 AM

  6. Best news of the day

    Posted by: protogenes | May 29, 2010 11:40:24 AM

  7. That's amazing and wonderful. But, if I were either of these guys, I would be looking to get out of the country. There won't be much condemnation should some moron or group of idiots take it upon themselves to dish out some 'justice' and hurt or kill these two. Not wishing them ill, but I know that part of the world and it's very different.

    Posted by: princely54 | May 29, 2010 11:43:08 AM

  8. Yes, very good news, even if the humanitarian action is couched in that inhumane statement. I hope for their safety and freedom from the homophobia that got them arrested to begin with. They will need protection.

    Posted by: Ernie | May 29, 2010 11:49:49 AM

  9. So who is going to send a thank you letter?

    Posted by: Jubal Harshaw | May 29, 2010 12:00:39 PM


    Posted by: ravewulf | May 29, 2010 12:02:51 PM

  11. Is anyone working on getting them out of there? If so, I'd be happy to donate to the cause. I would love to also put pressure on Obama, and Hillary Clinton at the state dept to grant them asylum here in the US. This is a great example for them to show us they're willing to take actions that back up their words. Both Clinton and Obama strongly denounced their convictions, let's see if they're willing to back that up by offering these two sanctuary.

    Posted by: gaylib | May 29, 2010 12:03:15 PM

  12. first news story that has actually brought tears of joy to my eyes in recent memory. now hightail it out of that country. can't we make them grand marshalls of sf's gay pride parade or something and send them airline tickets out?

    Posted by: borisg | May 29, 2010 12:04:01 PM

  13. Will Madonna be adopting them now?

    Posted by: Mark | May 29, 2010 12:04:57 PM

  14. Wonderful, wonderful news! Now somebody get them the hell outta there. The media coverage has painted a bullseye on their backs!

    Posted by: Q | May 29, 2010 12:12:33 PM

  15. IF they want to leave Malawi they need to be offered visas, then they can come and claim asylum. That's how it works.

    So IF it is learned that they really are unsafe AND they want to leave then do lobby for them to be granted visas (assuming they might want to come to the US). Another thing would be for reception to be organised and ongoing support for them to have a shot at a decent life somewhere else.

    Posted by: paul canning | May 29, 2010 12:14:17 PM

  16. A big public Thank You to all of those spoke up against this outrage: Secretary Clinton, the White House, U.N. Secretary Ban, Madonna, and everyone else in the blogosphere.

    Posted by: Filberto | May 29, 2010 12:18:56 PM

  17. Kudos to the president of Malawi for his decency and intelligence in this matter.

    Posted by: romeo | May 29, 2010 12:20:26 PM

  18. Incredible and unexpected news!!

    Now someone needs to get them out of this country asap, before some mob takes it upon themselves to carry out the sentence...

    Posted by: Charles | May 29, 2010 12:29:53 PM

  19. "a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws". The religion and laws are most assuredly from Colonial rule and it's a double standard when Black African nations use Colonial Laws and Religion to persecute their own citizens while then turning around and crying big tears about how "Colonial Rule" has destroyed them as a culture and nation. In fact Black African Culture rarely had criminal taboos against homosexual love. This is good news for these two men.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | May 29, 2010 12:34:26 PM


    Maybe they will be able to emigrate to a more gay friendly country that will grant them asylum.

    They could certainly make the case that they were, and will continue to be, the victims of persecution based on their sexual orientation/gender expression.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | May 29, 2010 12:51:22 PM

  21. OUT ONE PRISON AND INTO ANOTHER ONE.....good news,i hope so

    Posted by: sal | May 29, 2010 12:57:40 PM

  22. I hope they get the support they need to get out of this country. I hope all the international groups decrying this now stand up and help these men who have been pardoned by their President.

    Posted by: DR | May 29, 2010 1:04:13 PM

  23. I just cried tears of joy and thanksgiving.

    This is beautiful!

    I pray those 2 wonderful human beings are able to find a safe place for them to live out of that country.

    Posted by: FunMe | May 29, 2010 1:17:53 PM

  24. I'm on board with the sentiments stating they need to get the hell out of dodge! Seriously, the US, UK, Canada or any other country that believes in basic human rights needs to step up to the plate A.S.A.P.

    If anything, Madge should pony up the money and fly them out of there until they can be granted asylum. It's not like she can't afford it and could be the one GREAT thing she does with her fortune.

    If Madonna calls, PICK UP THE PHONE!

    Posted by: Keith | May 29, 2010 1:20:10 PM

  25. As soon as they're released, they'd better be about hauling ass out of that hateful country as soon as possible, or their lives won't be worth a plugged nickel. Asylum in a European country would be best for them, I think.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | May 29, 2010 1:24:07 PM

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