28 February 2012

Zambia: Gay Rights Impossible in Country - LAZ

Photo: UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with Michael Chilufya Sata, President of Zambia, in Zambian capital Lusaka.

LAZ vice-president Martin Musaluke said yesterday that it was unattainable to respect gay rights because homosexuality is prohibited in the country and that people convicted of the offence were liable to face stiff punishment.

He was reacting to United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's statement on his recent visit to Zambia that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation and that their rights should be respected.

But Mr Musaluke explained that respecting gay rights could only be possible if the current laws were repealed because whoever engaged or encouraged homosexuality should be prepared to face a sentence of up to life imprisonment.

He said there was no way the Zambian society could be asked to respect gay rights when the laws of the land prohibited homosexuality and spelt out penal sanctions.

"Having sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex is considered to be an act against the order of nature.

It, therefore, follows that whoever practises this act or encourages another person to do so commits a felony under our current laws," Mr Musaluke said.

He said in Zambia, laws as regards same-sex relationships were well-documented in the statutes and prohibited any homosexual practices.

In particular, he said, the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia under Section 155 provides that: "Any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; commits a felony and liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not less than 15 years and may be liable to imprisonment for life.

Mr Musaluke further explained that, Section 158 provides that: "(1) Any male who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with a male child or person, or procures a male child or person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male child or person, commits a felony and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not exceeding 14 years."

He said the same applies to a female who engages in an act against the order of nature with another female whether in public or private.

During his visit, Mr Ban said African countries should learn to respect the rights of people with different sexual orientations.

However, Mr Ban's statement has raised mixed feelings among different groups.

THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has said respecting gay rights in Zambia is impossible because homosexuality is a criminal offence under the current laws.

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