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Zambia chiefs call for ‘caging’ of gays after couples try to marry

Traditional leaders in Zambia have called for a crackdown on gays after four couples sought to register their same-sex marriages with a registrar
The Zambian capital Lusaka
Photo: Ferdinand Groeger

Tribal chiefs in Zambia have called for a crackdown on gays in the Southern African nation after four gay couples sought to have their marriages recognized by a state registrar – calling for them to ‘be caged.’

Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni and Chief Shakumbila of Mumbwa wrote to the Zambia Daily Mail to condemn LGBT people after it reported that four mixed national same-sex couples had sought to have their marriages recognized by a state registrar earlier this month.

‘It is not a culture of Zambians, Africans and Ngonis to practice homosexuality and gay people should be caged,’ Chief Madzimawe told the newspaper.

Chief Shakumbila told the paper that LGBT rights activists should cease their activities as Zambia was a Christian nation and thus had no room for gay rights.

Zambia’s Minister of Home Affairs, Edgar Lungu, told the paper that police should arrest the eight men who tried to register their marriages during the Easter weekend.

‘If the men are found to have committed any offense, action should be taken accordingly,’ Lungu said.

‘It is a pity that foreigners have started bringing this thing to us now. We are on dangerous ground where people are bringing new things to us and we are watching. The police must do their work … same-sex marriages are not a normal thing.’

Lusaka City Council (LCC) marriage registrar Henry Kapata refused the four couples when they approached him to recognize their marriages.

‘They were waiting on the queue and I didn’t know what they wanted until they entered my office,’ Kapata told the Daily Mail, ‘They were all men, dressed normally.’

‘I was shocked that such things can happen in Zambia. I told them that we don’t register gay marriages in Zambia. The Marriages Act … of the Laws of Zambia and even the Constitution is very clear about that.’

However non-governmental human rights group Dette Resources Foundation executive director Jane Kaluba urged authorities not to pursue the couples.

‘We are disappointed by LCC spokesperson Henry Kapata for showing shock when in fact he is aware that LGBTIs exist and live in our communities,’ Kaluba said.

‘What Mr Kapata did over Easter holiday is an indicator of how isolated gays live in Zambia.’

‘Policy-makers should respect the right to freedom of expression and respect for dignity, they should not instigate the Police Service to investigate and arrest LGBTIs but allow for dialogue.’

Kaluba said that an Easter call by Zambian President Michael Sata for all Zambians to love and forgive each other should be extended to LGBTs as well.

A call by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for Zambia to respect the rights of LGBT people was roundly rejected in March last year.

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