Anti-gay forces in Zambia have launched a new wave of harassment of LGBT rights activists, including threatening phone calls, a criminal investigation, and a news article stating that activists traveling abroad will face criminal charges on their return to Zambia.
“Our lives are in danger,” said one activist who is still in the country. “I am now in hiding.”
“Someone has been stalking us,” he said. “This is another latest development of state-sponsored homophobia. We have been getting threatening phone calls and insulting messages since yesterday.”
Zambia has been in an uproar about homosexuality since last spring, triggered by an apparently false report that four gay couples tried to register for marriage in Lusaka.
Since then, four men in rural Kapiri Mposhi and in Lusaka have been arrested on homosexuality-related charges — two of whom were reported to police by a family member after a police spokesperson urged the public to report homosexuals to police.
In addition, AIDS activist Paul Kasonkomona was charged with “soliciting for immoral purposes” because he said on television last spring that Zambia should repeal its law against homosexual activity. The LGBT rights group Friends of Rainka has listed dozens of incidents of harassment and human rights violations against LGBT people in the past six month.
The recent threats come at a time when several LGBT rights activists from Zambia are in Sweden attending a Rainbow Leaders training program.
That trip was described in the Zambian news site Tumfweko as “Gay Zambian Leaders Meet In Sweden To Raise Money To Promote Gay Rights In Zambia.”
A group of well-known Zambian gay and lesbian leaders have travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, to attend a fundraising event called the Rainbow leadership program, where they hope to raise some funds from various donors from Southern Africa … to implement their projects and activities in Zambia of promoting gay rights in Zambia. … According to sources, the group has thus far raised about $41,000.
An activist in Sweden disputed the Tumfweko account, saying that the program is a leadership training program, not a fundraising event.
The article described a police investigation into accusations that mirror a common stereotype of homosexuality in Africa — that people enrage in it as a means of social and economic advancement and that gays “lure” people into homosexuality by offering them economic incentives.
The Tumfweko article stated that an 18-year-old boy in the Lusaka area “was lured into homosexual practices” after meeting “the leaders of the group who at the time had just returned from another fundraising trip from South Africa in 2012.” He said they gave him money for “fancy” clothes and promised him “that they would pay for his school fees, provide him with subsistence allowance to assist him support his struggling parents and above secure himself a brighter future.”
His accusations are being investigated by police at the Emmasdale police station, the article stated. The alleged perpetrators will be officially charged when they return to Zambia, the article said.
The Tumfweko account claimed that homosexuality is on the rise in Zambia as a result of “high poverty and unemployment rates.” It also cited two anti-gay leaders:
Earlier these year Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu was quoted as having stated “Those who are advocating for gay rights should go to hell! That is not an issue we will tolerate.” …
Meanwhile International Fellowship of Christian Churches (IFCC) President Simon Chihana has strongly condemned … the promotion of gay rights in Zambia when he said “Gay rights should not be allowed in Zambia. Such kind of acts are an abomination. The government should not even think of allowing such, no matter the pressure from the international community or whatsoever.”
- How to help victims of anti-gay laws in Zambia (76crimes.com)
- 43 anti-LGBT violations in Zambia; ‘accident waiting to happen’ (76crimes.com)
About the Paul Kasonkomona case:
- From his cell, AIDS activist sues Zambia (76crimes.com)
- Zambia arrests activist after gay rights appeal on TV (76crimes.com)
- Zambian activist must stand trial for opposing anti-gay law (76crimes.com)
About Zambian sodomy cases:
- Justice delayed, justice denied for 2 in Zambian gay trial (76crimes.com)
- 5 months in Zambian jail as gay trial falters; no eyewitnesses (76crimes.com)
- Report: Two more arrests in Zambia for gay sex (76crimes.com)
- Zambia: 2nd arrest in 2 days for gay couple (76crimes.com)
- Gay in Zambia: mob justice, jail until May 22 trial (76crimes.com)
- Appeal to Zambia: End repressive anti-gay frenzy (76crimes.com)
- Zambia report: Police arrest married gay couple (76crimes.com)
- Why such silence amid Zambians’ anti-gay storm? (76crimes.com)
- Jailed gay pair in Zambia abused; at risk of rape, disease (76crimes.com)
- Justice minister wants no justice for Zambian gays (76crimes.com)