16 May 2013

Zambia: Gay Rights Activist Wants Case Referred to High Court

Photo: Times of Zambia
Court gavel.

GAY rights activist Paul Kasonkomona has applied to have his matter referred to the High Court for determination of constitutional matters.

Kasonkomona contends that the constitutionality of Section 178 (g) of the Penal Code is vague and contravened his fundamental rights under Article 18(1).

This is in a matter in which Kasonkomona 38, an employee of Engender Rights Zambia is charged with one count of idle and disorderly conduct.

Kasonkomona, of Chilulu Garden Township in Lusaka is on April 7 this year alleged to have solicited for homosexual rights to be respected in Zambia during a programme called "The Assignment" on Muvi Television.

In his application before Magistrate Lameck Ng'ambi, the accused yesterday asked the State to avail him with the video recording of his interview with Muvi Television before the commencement of trial.

He argued that Section 178(g) was unconstitutionally overboard in that other persons to whom the section was unconstitutional may refrain from any expression or speech or opinion.

"We humbly submit that this request for Constitutional reference to the High Court is neither frivolous nor vexatious and pray that this is a fit and proper case for reference to determine the constitutionality of the issues raised," Kasonkomona said.

He told Mr Nga'mbi that Section 178(g) assumes that there is a uniform understanding of "immoral purposes" and that the public understanding of the ambit of the section is uniform and clear despite the long passage of time since the enactment of the Law.

The accused argued that Section 178(g) had never been used before in the manner the State was attempting to use it now.

Kasonkomona said it would not be tenable that at the time of appearing on television he was aware that his actions could fall foul because the section's wording does not suggest that expressing one's views on television would contravene the section in any respect.

Ruling in the matter has been set for June 4, this year.

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