Malawi's government says it isn't swayed by international outrage over the arrest of a gay couple last month.

Amnesty International and gay rights group Outrage are among the organizations that have called for the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga. The two men held a symbolic engagement ceremony on Dec 26 and were arrrested soon after. They were charged with "unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency," and they face up to 14 years in prison. 

In a statement released yesterday, Malawi's Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thotore said the men were "clearly breaking the laws of Malawi," reports AP.

"As government we cannot interfere in the court process," Thoto said. "We depend on our Western friends, yes, but we are a sovereign country."


The Dec 28, 2009 issue of Malawian newspaper The Nation. Pictured: Monjeza (left) and Chimbalanga (right).

The gay couple's lawyers have requested a constitutional review of the country's ban on homosexuality. A verdict is expected next month. 

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