Saturday 29 May 2010

Malawi pardons gay couple

Malawi pardons a gay couple from a 14-year prison term after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

MALAWI-GAY PARDON - Malawi's leader Bingu wa Mutharika pardons a gay couple from a 14-year prison term after a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who applauded the move and urged the country to amend "outdated" laws on homosexuality.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, saying:

"It is unfortunate that laws which criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation still exist in some countries. This outdated penal code should be reformed."

Major donors to aid-dependent Malawi had condemned the jail sentence and warned it could affect support for Malawi's budget. The United States called the decision "unconscionable".

The Malawian couple, were arrested after celebrating their engagement in a traditional ceremony in late December.

They were tried and found guilty earlier this month of sodomy and indecency.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

Thousands demonstrate against Arizona immigration law

New Arizona attracts thousands of demonstrators who oppose the law, and some who support it.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA, USA (MAY 29, 2010) NBC - Angered by Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants, thousands of protesters marched through central Phoenix on Saturday (May 29), urging Washington to block the new state law they call racist.
Civil rights and labor group activists from across the United States -- carrying banners that read: "Obama Keep Your Promise" -- rallied to protest the law, which requires state and local police to investigate the immigration status of people they suspect are in the country illegally.

"We're here to stand in unison with immigrant families. This law violates our fundamental principles of human dignity and human rights" said marcher Peter Morales.

The Arizona law comes at a difficult time for President Barack Obama, who has failed so far to deliver on his promise to Hispanic voters of an immigration overhaul. His Democratic Party faces congressional elections in November.

Activists want Obama to order federal authorities not to accept custody of illegal immigrants detained under the law.

They also want the Obama administration to revoke the so-called 287g agreement, which deputizes officers from local police agencies to enforce federal immigration laws.

The Arizona law seeks to push illegal immigrants from the desert state, a major corridor for migrant and drug smugglers crossing the border from Mexico. The measure is supported by a solid majority of voters both in Arizona and nationally.

Advocates of the law -- due to take effect on July 29, subject to legal challenges -- also held a protest near the Arizona Capitol building.

One man who supports stronger laws equated the current situation to an immigration tsunami.

"You keep allowing these tsunamis of non-white hostile crowds to come in, once they're the majority they will not extend to us the same courtesies," he said standing next to a Confederate flag. "We will be voted into the cooking pot. So now is the time to wake up."