Malawi’s government has defended the prosecution of a gay couple who had a wedding ceremony.

Information minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto said Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were “clearly breaking the laws of Malawi.”

He said: “Despite Malawi depending on international aid, the country is a sovereign country with its own laws and must not be influenced by the West in the running of its affairs of state.”

Monjeze and Chimbalanga were arrested on December 28th after holding a wedding ceremony in Blantyre. They face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been remanded in custody after failing to secure bail.

Amnesty International has called for their release, saying the pair have committed no crime.

The men’s lawyers are arguing that the prosecution is unconstitutional and have asked for a review of the country’s homosexuality laws.

Their legal team has asked for the case to be held before the Constitutional Court, but the presiding judge in Blantyre has said he will continue with the trial until the higher court accepts the case.

The trial is expected to resume next week.