Appeal to Zambia: End repressive anti-gay frenzy

Paul Kasonkomona (Photo courtesy of Muvi TV)
Paul Kasonkomona (Photo courtesy of Muvi TV)

Human rights activists are pleading for moderation and restraint in Zambia as the country remains engulfed in a wave of homophobia that began with a news article claiming that four gay couples had tried to register themselves as married on March 30.

The outcry continued after the April 7  arrest of AIDS activist Paul Kasonkomona after he spoke in favor of gay rights during a television show.

Police have asked Zambian citizens to report suspected homosexuals.  Several human rights activists have gone into hiding to avoid arrest or worse.

Activists say they have seen a rapid increase in human rights violations against LGBTI persons, including acts of violence, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, blackmail and extortion.

Friends of Rainka said that a senior government official made a telephone call to one of the organization’s outreach officers, cautioning him that, if he spoke  about homosexuality or commented about it on Facebook, the official would  hunt him down.  The outreach officer rebuffed him, but was shocked that the official had obtained his restricted telephone number.

Friends of Rainka logo
Friends of Rainka logo

Friends of Rainka said that a number of young LGBTI Zambians have been subjected to an “exorcism” ritual by parents or guardians in an attempt to rid them of the “demon of homosexuality.” Those who have resisted those rituals are now being told to move away for fear of police and or community reprisals.

The following news articles and opinion pieces from Zambia’s major newspapers, the  Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail, have helped incite the anti-gay uproar:

In response, the human rights organization Friends of Rainka pleaded with Zambian officials and religious leaders to avoid making inflammatory statements that might lead to increased violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Writing from the United States, Zambian native the Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma, called for civility and an end to arrests of gay-rights advocates. In an article titled “Why Not Gay Rights? Priest’s View,” he said:

Nobody is promoting homosexuality – we have gays in our midst.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma (Photo courtesy of BU.edu)
The Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma (Photo courtesy of BU.edu)

They might be hiding but they are our brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, workmates and fellow citizens.

They attend church, sing in our choirs, tithe and in some cases they are pastors and priests.

But they cry, fall in love, bleed and die too. Please let us live to disagree but never sacrifice our common humanity.

For further information:

Articles by the Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma include these:

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]

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