4th month in jail for gay couple facing Zambia trial delays

Activists in Zambia supplied this information about the ongoing trial of Philip Mubiana and James Mwape, who could face up to 14 years in prison on charges of homosexual activity:

In chains, Philip Mubiana and James Mwape enter the Kapiri Mposhi courtroom.
In chains, Philip Mubiana and James Mwape enter the Kapiri Mposhi courtroom.

The homosexuality trial of  Philip Mubiana and James Mwape in Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia, has been delayed again.

The judge, Kabwe Principal Resident Magistrate John Mbuzi, ordered the delay because defense lawyer Sunday Nkonde of SNB Legal Practitioners of Lusaka, had fallen ill.

The trial is now scheduled to resume Aug. 28 and 29, which will be more than four months after they were arrested. In the meantime, they remain in prison. Mubiana and Mwape, both age 21, must also make routine appearances in court on July 31 and Aug. 14.

They are charged with “carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature,” which  can lead to a 14-year prison sentence.

Mwape, a bricklayer, and Philip Mubiana, a hairdresser, were arrested in Kapiri Mposhi in rural Zambia on April 25, were released on May 2, and were re-arrested on May 4 after a hostile mob found them sharing a drink at a local bar. They have been detained since then because police said the men might break the law again if they were released.

Their arrest resulted from an anti-gay campaign launched in early April, when Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba urged the Zambian public to report homosexuals. In response to that appeal, Mubiana’s sister Sharon reported her brother to police.

The trial began June 10.

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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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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