|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Zambia's ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) continues to use homosexuality as a wedge issue in the media to harm the Patriotic Front (PF) in elections.
PF leader Michael Sata allegedly told the Danish media that homosexuality is recognised in Zambian law. According to PF spokesperson Guy Scott, the deluge of articles using Christianity to condemn Sata for his remarks have hurt the party.
Patriotic Front (PF) vice-president Guy Scott's admission that people in many places around the country are asking about PF leader Michael Sata's intention to introduce homosexuality is confirmation of how negatively the issue has affected the PF campaigns, Forum for Leadership Search executive director Edwin Lifwekelo has said.
Mr Lifwekelo said it was pleasing that Dr Scott confirmed what some PF members of the central committee (MCC) had recently revealed about the challenges they were facing in their campaigns following Mr Sata's open support for homosexuality.
On Wednesday, Dr Scott confirmed in his Post newspaper column that villagers had been asking him if it was true that Mr Sata intended to sanction marriages of men with their fellow men and women with their fellow women.
Recently, some PF MCCs told the Times in a walk-in interview that Mr Sata's plans to introduce homosexuality in Zambia had made PF campaigns difficult as everywhere they went people were asking why they should allow the PF leader to rule Zambia when his sole agenda was to promote unchristian values.
The Zambian Watchdog published a commentary today by "The Pilgrim" that analyses the dangers that arise with the lack of separation between Church and State in Zambia.
The furore over Sata’s misread response must enable us to soberly reflect as a nation on this and other delicate issues that we cannot afford to leave to politicians because of such subjects’ potential electoral costs. Take the case of the gay and lesbian issue, for instance. Given the uproar that the issue has caused in the nation, mainly in the Christian community – and we have got to accept that Zambia, like many other African countries, has been thoroughly Christianised – which politician would dare stand and defend homosexuality and its practitioners especially that the homosexuality population in the country is predictably too low to be relied upon as an electoral constituency? Probably, not even the most populist of them all! It is because of potential political costs that even Sata himself, in response to the uproar that his statement has caused, later said he is a Christian and defended the present status quo because he knows that politics is about numbers and that he stands to lose the ‘holy vote’ if he is to say the opposite.
All of us must therefore pose to reflect and ask soul-searching questions. For instance, should romantic or love attractions be constitutionally legislated, curtailed by social conventions or imposed on individuals? Shouldn’t every person have the right and choice to love whomsoever they deem fit, regardless of others’ perceptions of that choice and of the notional, superficial and discriminatory declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation? Don’t we enhance our humanity by tolerating and learning to embrace other people’s choices, including those things we out rightly don’t agree with and might religiously regard as ‘sin’? Isn’t society founded on sacrosanct differences and the diversity of choice? Shouldn’t we, the practitioners of heterosexualism, embrace homosexuals’ choices, as they do to our own selections, which possibly must appear as distasteful or even ‘sinful’ to them? In what significant ways, if any, does homosexuality – not smoking or beer drinking, for instance – harm us individually and as a nation?
May we all of us deeply, maturely, most sincerely and devoid of any prejudices, discuss, negotiate and meditate over this and other significant soul-searching topics and ultimately say ‘this is what we have agreed to take our country Zambia forward!'
A Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey on Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa found that "in 13 of 16 countries with a sufficient number of Christians to analyze, half or more Christians favor making the Bible the official law of the land. And in 12 of 15 countries where analysis of the Muslim population is possible, half or more of Muslims favor establishing sharia, or Islamic law, in their countries. Support for religiously based civil law is highest, at roughly eight-in-ten, among Muslims in Djibouti (82%) and among Christians in Zambia (77%). "