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Zambia : Ruling party uses gay debate to disparage opposition

The ruling party in Zambia, the Movement for Multi- party Democracy (MMD) has suggested that certain government officials have been meeting opposition leader, Michael Sata in a plea to recognise homosexuality which according to activists is a conspiracy to disparage the opposition party.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

21st October 2010 12:20

Alessia Valenza

Amidst the recent tabling of the draft constitution currently siting before parliament, the Forum for Leadership Search revealed that it had information that some government officials have been meeting opposition leader Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) to lobby for recognition of homosexuality in Zambia.

Since the surfacing of such information the Independent Churches of Zambia has called for the naming and shaming of those leaders allegedly in favour of the recognition of homosexuality.

Chan Mubanga, Executive Director of the Friends of Rainka rubbished such claims, adding “those reports are not concrete. We seem to have the ruling party using opposition as a scape goat. The ruling party accuses the PF party for lobbying to promote gay rights because it knows that will evoke hatred amongst the religious society and gain the ruling party favour in next year’s elections.”

Early this year, the National Constitution Conference (NCC) adopted clause 5 added to article 47 which prohibits marriage between people of the same sex in the draft constitution, which according to activist is most likely to be enacted

“As it stands, the bills have been tabled before parliament and no specific date has been announced, however, a top government official said that the new constitution will be passed without fail soon”, said Mubanga.

Homosexuality in Zambia is further prohibited in the Penal Code, and criminalised under Chapter 87 section 155-9, stated as unnatural offences and bestiality. But Mubanga says “homosexuality is very hard to prove, our laws state that one must be found in the act for them to arrest you. The government has of course made threats but that is all they can do.”

Mubanga further said “In our opinion the current intended laws are very harsh and bluntly disregard citizens their rights to communion.”

The Zambian government has maintained a staunch homophobic stand on homosexuality, with former president, Frederick Chiluba who has previously said “homosexuality in the deepest level of depravity, which is unbiblical and abnormal.”

With the government proposing harsher laws, Mubanga says “the movement is still on track with its programmes, we are not deterred of threatened by the draft. It’s a piece of paper that can be changed with proper dialogue and education.”

With interventions from international bodies, certain African countries have seemingly been sympathetic towards the LGBTI community, asked if Zambia could take precedent, Mubanga said “donor communities have been applying pressure on Government to domesticate the UN human rights principles. But laws of the land prevail over international law.”