Church of Scotland hits out at jailing of gay couple in Malawi

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THE Church of Scotland has condemned the imprisonment of two gay men in Malawi as "unjust".

Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk's influential Church and Society Council, which sets down its policy on social issues, spoke out against the jailing of the two men to 14 years' hard labour after they became engaged in December.

He said: "This is not a just decision and it is one that we hope will be quickly reversed. These men have harmed no-one. They are a danger to no-one and they should not be in prison.

"It is not right to imprison people on the grounds of their sexuality, even in a place where attitudes to human sexuality are different from here, and those differences should not stop us saying so."

The Kirk is currently grappling with the issue of ordaining openly gay ministers following the controversy surrounding the appointment of Scott Rennie to Queen's Cross, Aberdeen, last year, which split the Church.

Following the controversy that flared during last year's General Assembly, a moratorium was placed on any further public debate or comment on the issue until 2011, while an internal consultation process, including a secret ballot, is carried out within the Church.

So far the moratorium has been observed at the General Assembly, which is currently being held at The Mound in Edinburgh. However, Galloway said that despite the split in the Kirk over the issue, they would unite on the Malawi case.

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