Release gay activist: Salc

By Drum Digital
10 April 2013

Zambian police should immediately release HIV and gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona, the Southern African Litigation Centre (Salc) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) said on Wednesday.

Salc lawyer Anneke Meerkotter said Kasonkomona's arrest was unlawful and a cause for concern.

"The unlawful arrest and detention of Kasonkomona is a blatant attempt to silence anyone who promotes the human rights of sexual minorities in Zambia," said Meerkotter.

"It is also an alarming attack on the right of all Zambians to exercise their right to the freedom of expression."

Kasonkomona had not appeared in court by Wednesday morning.

Osisa marginalised populations co-ordinator Chivuli Ukwimi said this was unlawful.

"This is clearly a politically motivated violation of his most basic rights," he said.

Kasonkomona was arrested on Sunday shortly after appearing on a television programme to debate and support same sex marriages in Zambia.

According to Meerkotter, Kasonkomona's arrest was ordered by acting president and home affairs minister Edgar Lungu, who is allegedly notorious for his opposition to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals.

Kasonkomona was charged with inciting the public to take part in indecent activities.

Meerkotter said this Zambian law was included in the English Vagrancy Act in 1898, and was repealed in England in 1956. She said Zambia should have scrapped the law long ago as it was now wrongfully being implemented by the police.

Homosexuality is still outlawed in several African countries, including Zambia.

-by Sapa

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