Madonna in Malawi

Madonna, a celebrity closely associated with Malawi, has spoken out against the jailing of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga.

“I am shocked and saddened by the decision made today by the Malawian court, which sentenced two innocent men to prison,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

“As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, colour, religion, or sexual orientation.

“Today, Malawi took a giant step backward. The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved.

“I call upon the progressive men and women of Malawi—and around the world—to challenge this decision in the name of human dignity and equal rights for all,” the star said.

The singer has adopted two Malawian orphans – Mercy, five, and David, four – and is currently building the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls to give young women new opportunities in the country.

Madonna has been a supporter of LGBT causes since the early days of her career. In August last year she was booed on stage in Bucharest, Romania after condemning discrimination against gays and gypsies in Eastern Europe.

Monjeza and Chimbalanga were sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour on charges of “unnatural acts” and “gross indecency” after they were arrested in December last year for getting engaged in a public ceremony.

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