Zambian activists seek halt to gay manhunt

The Zambian human rights group Friends of Rainka has called for an end to a police manhunt for activists and LGBTI people that began after four allegedly gay couples tried to register same-sex marriages in Lusaka during the Easter weekend.

Paul Kasonkomona (Photo courtesy of Ndifuna Ukwazi)
Paul Kasonkomona (Photo courtesy of Ndifuna Ukwazi)

On April 7, police arrested anti-AIDS and human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona after appearances on Muvi TV in which he made appeals for recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The motive for the anti-homosexuality campaign seems to be to distract the public from more important issues that the country faces, particularly the country’s constitution, the human rights group said.

It also questioned whether the same-sex marriage incident might actually be a “ploy employed by enemies of the community in a quest to distract the nation from discussing ongoing social, economic and political challenges.”  Attempts to contact the couples or to confirm their identities have been unsuccessful. “They remain unknown to anyone else in the community,” the  group stated.

In a press release, “Zambia – LGBTI Activists Under Attack,” Friends of Rainka said:

Friends of Rainka logo
Friends of Rainka logo

Police have launched a manhunt for LGBTI activists and have called on the general populace to report any suspected homosexuals to the police for further investigation. To this effect, the LGBTI community in Zambia is existing under extreme fear and pressure. … Suspected plainclothed police visited homes and offices of some LGBTI organisations in an attempt to destabilise their work.

LGBTI activists are safe for now, but remain in hiding for fear of persecution and have appealed to members of the LGBTI community to exercise extreme caution and care when dealing with any unknown people as we stand in solidarity with detained activist, Paul Kasonkomona.

The latest Zambian call for persecution of homosexuals came from two traditional chiefs, with a proposal from the Ngoni chief that “gay people should be caged.”  A Zambia Daily Mail story titled “Cage gays, chiefs urge State,” reported that “chiefs Madzimawe of the Ngoni and Shakumbila of Mumbwa urged government to arrest gay couples in the country. … Chief Madzimawe said: ‘It is not a culture of Zambians, Africans and Ngonis to practice homosexuality and gay people should be caged.’ ”

Friends of Rainka stated:

We appeal to all our  partners and friends around the country to come out in full support of the  LGBTI activists on the ground who are feeling the brunt of  the current state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia fueled by continued hate and scapegoating of LGBTI people  as a ruse to fool the public into discussing trivial matters as opposed to the ongoing constitution-making process. …

We, the Friends of Rainka, Zambia condemn these current acts of oppression and call them for what they are.  It’s immoral for a majority to oppress an already marginalized community in the name of ‘culture’ and or ‘Christianity’. In our blinded quest to challenge the West, let’s not lose sight of our common humanity.

All Zambians deserve protection from harassment be they black or white, yellow or green, Jew or gentile, homosexual or heterosexual.

The European Union is not asking Zambia to legitimise same-sex marriage but is working in to aid the very people who continue to exist on the fringes of society — who cast as social and economic pariahs owing to the rigidity and intolerance of our borrowed ‘culture.’ …

Let’s keep in mind that the slave owners in the United States and the apartheid government in South Africa were operating within the confines of the law of the day too. In the words of St. Augustine, an unjust law is no law at all and therefore we all have a moral obligation to challenge that law.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex Zambians  are taxpayers who contribute to the national development of this country. They are brothers, sisters, children, uncles, aunts  and are your  friends and neighbours who love and would give their lives for their beloved country.

Homosexuality and transsexuality are not the alien norms; it is homophobia and transphobia which have no place in Zambia, as our existence has always been extended by our ability to co-exist, to remain tolerant and respectful despite our perceived differences and oftentimes competing agendas. Our humanity is intricately bound and we cannot escape it whether we like it or not.

For more information, read the full press release: “Zambia – LGBTI Activists Under Attack.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

4 Comments

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  1. “All Zambians deserve protection from harassment
    be they black or white, yellow or green, Jew or
    gentile, homosexual or heterosexual.”
    U c that there illustrates my first problem with this modern ‘gay-rights’ movement. U are equating being black or white, to be homosexual or heterosexual…as if u can tell by mere physical inspection who is gay and who is straight, the way you can with race. Never mind that some people actually stop being gay and become straight, legitimately, last I checked u can’t stop being black and start being white even if u did bleach your skin. This would seem to suggest that homosexuality is simply a state of mind, rather than a biological identity (lyk you’re tryna make it look) n just lyk any other state of mind, it can be changed.
    My second problem is on the issue of same sex marriage, by definition marriage is a union of two individuals of the opposite sex. So u can’t call the union of gays a marriage, u wud b grammatically incorrect, logically incorrect too. So maybe come up with another word for it, but just don’t soil the holy union that is marriage.
    Further more, homosexuality is wrong simply because it goes against the law of the land, more importantly, its wrong coz it goes against the law of God. Zambia is a christian nation and as such will always stand by the word of God which says expressly about homosexuals that their place is in the lake of fire along with liars, murderers etc. So there is no difference between a liar and a gay, both can reform and be rehabilitated, but just as a thief who doesn’t want to stop stealing won’t be tolerated, neither will a gay person who refuses to reform and yield to the Lords decrees.
    Finally I’m firmly opposed to the gay movement coz I believe promoting and tolerating it will only lead to an increase in the number of pedophiles and cases of pedophilia, after all pedophiles are gay aren’t they
    I habour no ill intent or will toWard homosexual folk, I love them like I do any other person and understand that like any man, they are fallen by nature and in need of a saviour. However to safe guard the future of our civilisation I believe that homosexuality must be discouraged and the law reinforced.

    • You say, “I habour no ill intent or will toWard homosexual folk, I love them like I do any other person and understand that like any man, they are fallen by nature and in need of a saviour.”
      Yet you believe that these people whom you love should be thrown in prison? And that’s because you insist, despite evidence to the contrary, that they have the ability to change their sexual orientation? Do you truly believe that YOU have made a choice to be attracted to the opposite sex — that you weren’t born that way, but choose to be that way?

      Blessings,
      Colin Stewart
      Editor/publisher of the Erasing 76 Crimes blog

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