The president of Malawi has pardoned two gay men who were sentenced to 14 years in prison this month for gross indecency and unnatural acts, the country's solicitor general, Anthony Kamanga, said Saturday.
Steven MojenzaÂ andÂ TiwongeÂ Chimbalanga, both in their 20s,Â were arrested in December at their home in Blantyre, Malawi, for professing their love in a traditional engagement ceremony.
They were rounded up after news reports surfaced, charged under colonial-era sodomy laws and detained at Chichiri prison without bail.
The arrests received some popular support in the conservative southern African nation, but sparked condemnation by gay-rights activists. Human-rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for the couple's release.
Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, as it is in most African nations, and government officials have said they are simply upholding the law. Activists in Malawi, however, say they are violating the country's constitution, which outlaws discrimination.
The Malawi Law Society said the prosecution of the two men was driven by prejudice, not jurisprudence.