Verdict delayed again in Zambian anti-gay trial

James Mwape and Philip Mubiana arrive for trial.
James Mwape and Philip Mubiana arrive for trial.

The verdict has again been delayed in the trial of two young Zambian men who have been imprisoned for more than a year on homosexuality charges.
The trial had been scheduled to end May 30, but it was delayed until today (June 23).  Today, without explanation, the magistrate presiding over the trial failed to appear and the conclusion of the trial was adjourned until July 3.
Agence France-Presse reported that the courtroom was packed today, including foreign observers from the United States, Germany and the United Nations.
“It is unfortunate that the case has again been adjourned,” said US chargé d’affaires David Young, flanked by German ambassador Bernd Finke and UNAIDS country coordinator Helen Frary, AFP reported.
Defendants Philip Mubiana and James Mwape of rural Kapiri Mposhi have been in custody since May 6, 2013. They were arrested after family members reported them to police in response to a nationwide appeal to Zambian citizens to inform on alleged homosexuals. The men’s repeated applications for bail have been rejected.
One criticism that AFP reported today came from an independent rights activist:

“This is uncalled for. They have been in detention for a long time,” said independent rights activist Brebner Changa.
“This trial is sending wrong signals about Zambia to the outside world,” he added.
Accusing government of being “overzealous”, Changa called for the couple to be acquitted.

Human rights organizations have been providing legal services and food to Mubiana and Mwape.
“How many more lives will be ruined before Zambians realize that criminalization of individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation is a violation of their fundamental human rights?” Juliet Mphande, executive director of Friends of Rainka, said earlier. “It’s time for all right-thinking Zambians to help curb this oppression of minorities.”
In the six months after the men’s arrest, Friends of Rainka tallied 43 LGBT-related violations of people’s rights. At least two other suspected same-sex couples have been arrested; at least one couple is also on trial.
This blog’s previous articles about the case:

Related articles

Selection of others’ articles about homophobia in Zambia:

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