South African President Jacob Zuma is being called on to intercede on behalf of a Malawi gay couple recently sentenced to 14 years in prison for their homosexual relationship.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is calling for the ?immediate release? of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimalanga, who were sentenced to hard labor last week for ?unnatural acts and gross indecency.?  They were arrested in December after announcing their engagement.

VOA reporter Delia Robertson in Johannesburg says the church believes ?the sentence that has been handed down is a gross violation of human rights and that they condemn such sentences.?

The church also expressed concern over the ?violent language? being used against gays and lesbians in Africa.

?The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has accepted homosexuality as a type of relationship, same sex relationship,? Robertson says, ?And in fact even are willing to marry people of the same sex.?

Robertson says church leaders want Zuma to lobby his Malawian counterpart, President Bingu wa Mutharika, for the men?s release and a change in Malawi?s anti-homosexual laws.

Also lending support to the Malawi men are UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe and the head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria Michel Kazatchkine.  Both met Tuesday with President Mutharika.