Our outrage, and the political pressure brought to bear on Malawi seem to have worked. It was announced on Saturday that after meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Malawi's President
Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon on "humanitarian grounds only"...
"These boys committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws," Mutharika said. "However, as head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore order their immediate release without any conditions."
What was missing from the news reporting (even from the NY Times) was any mention of the fact that this was NOT a gay couple, but a man and the transgender person he was in love with.
I'm so glad they were pardoned - and I'm also empowered to see that our outrage - the outrage of the world community - can affect change in situations like this.
However, I wish the media would take greater pains to report the story correctly. We should be working on combating transphobia at the same time that we fight homophobia!
I will say that it was heartening to hear the U.N. Secretary General be so firm about his support for gay rights:
"It is unfortunate that those that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation still exist in some countries, this outdated penal code should be reformed."
(You can check out the whole clip on this Reuters news video here - there is an ad first, sorry.)
The pardon of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a good reminder that our world is changing for the better - and how important it is for our voices to rise up and insist that it continue to change for our own - and everyone else's - basic equality and rights as human beings.
I hope you feel empowered by this story, too.
My thanks to Angela for letting me know the news had broken on this!