Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned a gay couple, who were sentenced 14 years in prison for charges of sodomy and indecency, following a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Donors warned Malawi that the jail sentence, which they deemed as a violation of human rights, may affect their assistance for Malawi’s budget, Reuters reports. U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said she joins President Barack Obama in lauding the move, which set “an example for nations across Africa and the world as they debate laws that criminalize sexual orientation.”
Meanwhile, Malawi intends to roll out the World Health Organization’s new guidelines on starting on antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive people sooner by mid-2011. Malawi is one three African nations that have carried out WHO-backed feasibility studies to evaluate the impact of the new guidelines once they are adopted. The study found that the number of people on treatment would increase by about 50 percent, doubling the cost of the national ARV program.