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Malawi President Pardons Gay Couple after Talks with UN Chief

The president of Malawi has pardoned a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison.

President Bingu wa Mutharika said Saturday that he was ordering the release of the men on humanitarian grounds. He made the announcement after meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Last week, a court sentenced Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, to 14 years of hard labor for sodomy and indecency.

The couple was arrested in December after holding a symbolic engagement ceremony.

U.S. officials said the United States was "appalled" by the sentence. A White House spokesman said the case marred Malawi's human rights record.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malawi and many other African countries.

The laws have triggered outrage and concern among Western nations and human rights groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.