This weekend the President of Malawi made the right move in pardoning a Malawian couple, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, previously sentenced to 14 years hard labor under a law that criminalizes homosexuality.
This is a first move in a series of other actions that need to be taken to fight discrimination and homophobia in Malawi and across many parts of Africa.
Chimbalanga and Monjeza, now free from prison, will likely face grave security issues from a homophobic public. With hate crimes against LGBTI individuals on the rise in other East African countries such as Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya, Human Rights First is concerned for the safety of this couple.
It doesn’t help that President Mutharika stated that he was pardoning the pair on humanitarian grounds and pointed out that homosexuality is still illegal.
We are pushing governments in Africa and throughout the world to uphold the rights of LGBTI individuals. Freeing a homosexual couple from jail is a step, but making sure that individuals do not face persecution or violence based on their sexual identity is the necessary next move.