When Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were arrested in Malawi simply for declaring their love for each other publicly, many Madonna fans wondered if she'd speak out. She never did, perhaps fearing making things worse (as a Western benefactor, the very type of person the anti-gays of Africa think are responsible for introducing homosexuality to the continent, her voice might have complicated things). Now that they've been convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labor, there seems to be no good reason to further hold her tongue. Madonna's official statement on the matter:
"I am shocked and saddened by the decision made today by the Malawian court, which sentenced two innocent men to prison.
"As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, color, 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."