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Malawi - the right response

May 31, 2010 11:40 PM

Home Office minister for equalities Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone MP has commented on her blog, after issuing a joint statement with government colleagues. She writes: Upon the news that a gay couple in Malawi, Mr Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Mr Steven Monjeza, were to be jailed for 14 years for unnatural acts, myself as Minister for Equality, foreign minister Henry Bellingham and international development minister Stephen O'Brien issued a joint statement.

The statement said: "We are deeply dismayed by the conviction for buggery and indecent practices of Mr Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Mr Steven Monjeza.

"We are also very concerned by the allegations of their mistreatment in police custody.

"Malawi has made significant progress on human rights in recent years.

"The government has signed up to international human rights treaties and Malawi's constitution protects the rights of all its citizens.

"Infringement of these rights is intolerable. The conviction and sentencing to the maximum 14 years' imprisonment of Mr Chimbalanga and Mr Monjeza runs counter to a positive trend.

"Britain has a close and strong partnership with Malawi and it is in this spirit that we raise our concerns. The UK believes that human rights apply to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"The UK urges the government of Malawi to review its laws to ensure the defence of human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds. The UK, along with our international partners, will continue to press the government of Malawi on this issue."

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