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Malawi president pardons jailed gay couple

world Updated: May 29, 2010 19:56 IST

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika Saturday announced the pardon of a gay couple jailed for 14 years for holding the country's first same sex wedding, following talks with UN chief Ban Ki-Moon.

"I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released," Mutharika said after meeting Ban Ki-moon.

"From a humanitarian point of view, they are released and pardoned forthwith."

"I do appreciate and commend the very courageous decision to pardon these two gay boys," Ban said.

"This outdated penal code should be reformed wherever it may exist."

Last week a court sentenced Steven Monjeza, 26, and his 20-year-old partner Tiwonge Chimbalanga to 14 years hard labour for sodomy, after they were arrested on December 28 following a symbolic wedding.

The jailing of the couple was met with outrage and alarm all over the world.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi and a majority of other African countries.