GroundUp (Cape Town)

Zambia: Outspoken Activist for Gay Rights Arrested in Zambia

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Gregg Gonsalves, one of Kasonkomona's former colleagues and who now works at the Yale School of Public Health's Global Health Justice Partnership, described him as "the essence of both solidarity and courage". He said, "Paul is amazing. He's now been arrested twice at least for advocating for others. The first time for protesting about health care workers' salaries and now advocating for LGBT people, even though he is straight."

In 2007, Human Rights Watch reported on one of these events, when Kasonkomona was detained (along with a colleague from the Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign) for demonstrating with striking healthcare workers.

Kasonkomona's arrest comes amid new debate about the rights of gay and sex workers rights in Zambia.

In 2010, Zambia was one of many countries that voted to change a United Nations resolution that condemned "Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions". These countries, mostly Arab and African, wanted to remove protection for gay people from this resolution. Their proposal was defeated.

Another organisation that supports gay rights, Friends of RAINKA, Zambia, described the situation as "a manhunt for LGBTI [Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] activists" and said, "the LGBTI community in Zambia is existing under extreme fear and pressure and so far, suspected plain clothed police visited homes and offices of some LGBTI organisations in an attempt to destabilise their work."

According to a report by Global Rights and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, gay people in Zambia suffer unfair discrimination with regards to access to public services like education, employment, and housing, and are subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, and extortion by the police.

Recent legislation, the Information Communications Technologies (ICT) Act No. 15 of 2009 and the Statutory Instrument on the Registration of Electronic Communications Apparatus No. 65 of 2011, requires cell phones companies to register all subscribers' SIM card information with the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Agency. ?

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