Wednesday, Apr 23rd

Last update12:26:35 PM GMT

Entertainment

Madonna condemns jailing of gay couple in Malawi

"We must support our basic human right to love and be loved"

Madonna has condemned a Malawian court decision to jail a gay couple for 14 years - and demanded it be challenged "in the name of human dignity".

The Queen of Pop called upon the people of Malawi and around the world to challenge the ruling which she described as a "giant step backward".

The singer said: "I am shocked and saddened by the decision made... 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, colour, religion, or sexual orientation."

She said of the decision: "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."

The two men were handed the maximum sentence on Thursday, which included hard labour, under Malawi's anti-gay laws.

The case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza has drawn international condemnation and ignited a human rights debate about the conservative southern African country.

The couple were arrested the day after their engagement party, and were jeered by a mob as they were driven to prison.

Madonna has taken a keen interest in issues in Malawi and has two adopted children from the country, David Banda and Chifundo "Mercy" James.

By The Press Association

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Boyzone's Ronan splits from wife

"The separation is amicable and they will continue to work together"

Ronan Keating has separated from his wife Yvonne after 12 years of marriage.

The split is said to be "amicable" and the pair said they would continue to provide the best for their children.

It comes just months after Ronan, 33, lost his close friend and Boyzone bandmate Stephen Gately.

A statement issued on the couple's behalf said: "With great sadness, Ronan and Yvonne Keating today announce their separation.

"The separation is amicable and they will continue to work together in order to provide the best for their children.

"The family ask for privacy at this difficult time."

A spokesman said there would be no further comment.

Ronan and his Irish model wife have three children, Jack, Marie and Ali.

The death of Stephen in October was a huge and unexpected blow to Ronan and the rest of his bandmates. They had been recording together again and had played a number of live shows after reforming to tour in 2008.

Ronan - whose solo hits have included Life Is A Rollercoaster - joined the rest of the band as pallbearers at the funeral.

By The Press Association

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Rachel Stevens expecting first baby

Rachel: "We are thrilled and so excited about becoming parents"

Rachel Stevens is pregnant with her first child.

The singer - who racked up a string of hits with S Club 7 before her solo career - said she was "thrilled" at the prospect of becoming a mum.

Rachel, who was once voted sexiest woman in the world by readers of FHM, married Alex Bourne last year.

A spokesman for the star said: "We are delighted to announce that our client Rachel Stevens and her husband Alex are expecting their first child later in the year."

Rachel added: "We are thrilled and so excited about becoming parents."

The 32-year-old - who won a new audience when she appeared as a contestant on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 - recently spoke about how she was looking forward to children.

In an interview published in New! magazine, she said: "We'd absolutely love to have children. I think having children is the most amazing thing."

By The Press Association

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Travolta and Preston expecting baby

We "are expecting a new addition to our family"

John Travolta and Kelly Preston said in a statement on their websites that they "are expecting a new addition to our family".

The couple did not specify what the addition is.

Various entertainment sites, including People.com and E! Online, interpreted the statement to mean that Preston is pregnant at 47.

Preston and Travolta have a 10-year-old daughter, Ella. The couple's son, Jett, died last year aged 16.

Meanwhile, the family's two dogs were killed last week in an accident at Maine's Bangor International Airport.

By The Press Association

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Mel B and Eddie at Shrek premiere

Mel B appeared to have put her differences with Eddie Murphy behind her as she supported him at the world premiere of his latest film.

The pair split four months before the birth of Mel's daughter Angel Iris, three, and the situation worsened when Eddie publicly denied being the father, even though a paternity test later showed the contrary.

Mel raised eyebrows when she arrived with the star to attend the Los Angeles screening of Shrek Forever After, the fourth and final film in the animated series.

However she kept a low-profile on the ogre-green carpet, and ignored waiting reporters, preferring instead to hug and chat with members of Eddie's family.

"It's crowded in the limo!" Eddie joked about the huge family turnout which came to support him.

Despite the fun family atmosphere, co-stars Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz admitted they were emotional about the movie being the last outing for Shrek.

Mike confessed: "We're getting sadder and sadder as we go down the carpet, truthfully."

Cameron too was disappointed that the series had come to its conclusion. "I am sad it's the end," she admitted.

Before being whisked into the screening, Cameron ordered her cast mates to autograph her copy of the script as a lasting reminder of her time on the franchise. "Sign, sign!" she demanded.

By The Press Association

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