US Rebukes Zambia For Imprisoning Two Gay Men

Bloomberg News reports:

The U.S. ambassador to Zambia said a high court ruling sentencing two men to 15 years in prison for homosexuality was horrifying. Ambassador Daniel Foote [photo] urged the government to reconsider laws that punish minority groups.

“I was personally horrified to read yesterday about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no one, to 15 years imprisonment,” he said in an emailed statement Friday.

The constitution stipulates that the southern African nation is Christian, and laws dating back to Britain’s colonial rule of the country that ended in 1964 forbid gay sex.

Via press release:

Pan Africa ILGA condemns the prosecution and sentencing of a gay couple arrested in Zambia. The arrest follows the invasion of privacy that occurred when the two parties were seen being intimate by a housekeeper.

This in itself is a gross violation of privacy and by extension, an assault on the dignity of the parties. We therefore strongly implore the concerned arms of the Zambian government to challenge this homophobic and dated trajectory of their laws and the application of such laws.

This is because where people’s privacy has been invaded, it is clearly an assault on their fundamental rights to privacy as provided by extant laws and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and constitutes the impairment of one’s right to practice their full identity as a human being.

The harsh 15-year sentence meted out to the two consenting adults has shocked the world and is a blow to the continued global efforts to decriminalize same-sex consensual sexual conduct as well as to enact laws which protect LGBTIQ+ rights and liberties.

Ambassador Foote is a career diplomat and has served with the State Department for 22 years. Over 95% of Zambia’s 17 million residents are Christians. 

Zambia not only criminalizes homosexuality, it is illegal there to advocate for LGBT rights. 

According to its Wikipedia entry, Zambia was targeted by “fundamentalist missionaries” more than any other African nation during its colonial period.