A protest will be held in central London next week to call for the release of two gay men arrested for having gay sex in Malawi.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been held in police custody since later December, pending their trial.

They were arrested for holding a traditional wedding ceremony and have twice been denied bail. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of indecency but could face up to 14 years in jail.

A verdict on their case is expected on Monday, the same day the London protest will be held outside the Commonwealth head office.

It has been organised by a number of gay groups, including Peter Tatchell’s group OutRage!.

Mr Tatchell said the protest had two aims – to call for the pair’s release and to ask the Commonwealth to condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi.

He said: “We want Steven and Tiwonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi’s anti-homosexuality laws.”

Mr Tatchell also accused Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma of failing to criticise Malawi for the pair’s arrests and said that more than 40 of the 53 Commonwealth member states still have laws against homosexuality.

The protest will be held between 12.30 and 2pm on Monday March 22nd outside the Commonwealth head office, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London.