Zambia under fire for anti-gay sentiment

2010-05-21 13:18

Johannesburg - As a gay couple in Malawi began serving a 14-year jail term for conducting an open relationship, another southern African country came under fire Friday over its treatment of gays.

New York-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch warned that recent homophobic statements by religious leaders and government authorities in Zambia, Malawi's neighbour to the west, was undermining that country's fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic.

In a letter to Zambian leaders dated May 17 and released to the media late on Thursday, HRW called on the government of President Rupiah Banda to condemn statements that could discourage gay men from using healthcare facilities, including HIV testing, and "erode their fundamental human rights".

The letter also called on Zambian lawmakers to decriminalise consenting homosexual conduct.

Homosexual acts are banned in Zambia, as is the case in Malawi and a number of other African countries.

On Thursday, a gay couple in Malawi received the maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment with hard labour after being found guilty of engaging in acts "against the order of nature".

The case caused an international outcry and shone a light on the ongoing repression of gays across the continent.

In Zambia, at least two religious leaders have recently criticised donor countries for speaking out in defense of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population.

HRW quoted Bishop JHK Banda, chairman of the National Aids Council, as describing the donors efforts as being "against the traditional values of the country".

Penalties for homosexual acts

Zambia's Anglican Council presiding bishop Robert Mumbi also recently described homosexuality as un-African - an oft-repeated refrain.

Elsewhere in the region, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has said gays were "lower than dogs and pigs" and refused to include gay rights in discussions on a new constitution.

And in the central African country of Uganda, a draft bill is before parliament that would increase penalties for homosexual acts to life in prison, or even the death penalty for some offenses.

HRW fears that homophobic statements will compromise efforts to prevent the spread of the deadly HIV virus in the gay community. HIV is mainly contracted through unprotected sex.

"Zambia has a strong track record on addressing HIV/Aids," Joseph Amon, Health and Human Rights director at Human Rights Watch said in the letter. "However, promoting intolerance and creating a climate of fear will only sabotage efforts to ensure access to HIV prevention and treatment by driving men underground," he said.

Zambia's anti-gay law, which dates to the British colonial era, violated the country's constitution, in that the charter guarantees the right to privacy and prohibits discrimination, HRW said.

The same argument has been made by human rights groups in Malawi.

- SAPA

Read more on:    zambia  |  southern africa  |  gay rights
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Newlands - 13:00 PM
    Road name: M3 Southbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC approaching the Newlands Avenue exit
  • Wednesday Bakoven - 12:59 PM
    Road name: Victoria Road Northbound
    DELAYS between Oudekraal and Bakoven
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.