9 April 2013

Zambia: Roy Clark Condemns Arrest Of Gay Activist

Photo: See-ming Lee/UN
Displaying the rainbow flag of gay rights activists: Despite vocal opposition in a number of African countries, acceptance is slowly gaining ground.

Paul Kasokomona featuring on Muvi TV's The Assignment programme on Sunday before he was arrested by police for defending gay rights.

Roy Clark, a veteran newspaper satirist, has come to the full defence of incarcerated Zambian gay activists Paul Kasokomona who was arrested in the premises of a private television station - Muvi TV - after featuring on Sunday's live programme dubbed The Assignment.

Clark, who goes by the stage name Spectator Kalaki, and wrote a satire column in The Post Newspaper for over a decade until he differed with owner Fred M'membe over professionalism issues after the organisation became a Patriotic Front mouthpiece in 2009, said the arrest of Kasonkamona at Muvi TV Studios indicates various forms of misbehaviour by the government.

"Paul Kasonkamona cannot be arrested purely on basis of being a homosexual. There is no such offence in the Penal Code. Paul Kasonkamona can only be arrested for homosexuality if he is caught in a homosexual sexual act," Clark, who was once ordered deported back to the United Kingdom for calling third Republican president Levy Mwanawasa a muwelele (a fool) in an article published by The Post, said on his social media network on Monday.

Clark now runs a blogspot on which he shares his weekly thoughts through satire but is also a social media activist who is married to Sara Longwe - a human rights activist.

"It is not illegal to speak in favour of human rights for homosexuals, and such freedom of speech is a constitutional right.A minister is abusing his authority when he directs that a certain person should be arrested and charged, since this compromises the independence of the judicial system from the executive," he argued.

Clark accused Acting president Edgar Lungu, who he said was a discredited and banned lawyer, of abusing the police by instructing them to arrest citizens for their right to speech.

Lungu, the Chawama parliamentary, was banned by the Law Association of Zambia for professional impropriety but currently serves as home affairs minister in President Michael Sata's government.

"The police are abusing their authority when they take instructions from a minister on whom to arrest and charge," he said.

Clark paid tribute to Kasokomona for speaking out on homosexuality whose practice is illegal in Zambia and those found in the act may face up five years in jail. However, the practice is prevalent and came to light when four couples wanted to enter legal union at the local council in Lusaka during Easter Holidays.

"I take my hat off to Paul Kasonkamona for speaking up for the human rights of an oppressed minority.

"Paul Kasonkamona should be released immediately, and then sue the government for wrongful arrest.

"If indeed a minister ordered his arrest, as seems to be the case, then that minister should himself be arrested and charged with abuse of authority," urged Clark.

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