Madonna is urging the citizens of Malawi to back an appeal to free two jailed gay men, branding their incarceration "backward".
On Thursday (20 May 10), Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were sentenced to 14 years in prison, including hard labour, because they are homosexual.
Gay icon Madonna, who adopted two of her children, David and Mercy, from the country, is fuming over the court's decision to imprison the men - and is calling for their release.
In a statement to Access Hollywood, she says, "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."