Zambia’s first lady has made ‘miracles’ happen as she becomes one of the most senior names in politics to stand up for gay rights.
Doctor Christine Kaseba-Sata has called for an end to discrimination of gay and bisexual men.
Speaking during a reception hosted by UNAIDS in the county’s capital Lasaka, she reflected on the recent waves of outings of LGBTI people by Zambian tabloids.
‘Silence around issues of men who have sex with men should be stopped and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation,’ she said.
‘Rather, we should address reproductive health issues around this issue.’
According to local reports, Kaseba-Sata also said men who have sex with men have the president’s support on public health issues.
The statements of Zambia’s first lady was described as a ‘miracle’ and a ‘potential game-changer’ for LGBT rights in the country by LGBT activists.
‘It is hard to overestimate the importance of what the First Lady said – in a country where the vast majority of people are opposed to gay rights,’ Richard Lee, of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, said.
‘She is also one of Zambia’s most recognized specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology and has practiced as a physician at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka for more than 25 years.’
There are two trials in Zambia that could see gay people face up to 14 years in prison
LGBTI activist Paul Kasonkomona is currently on trial for speaking on TV about the rights of gay people in the battle against HIV while two men Philip Mubiana and James Mwape are facing charges of sodomy.
But while the homophobic culture of Zambia appears to be on the rise, there are growing fears for the safety of LGBTI people.
Zambian Home Affairs minister Edgar Lungu spoke to reporters earlier this year, saying: ‘Those advocating gay rights should go to hell, that is not an issue we will tolerate.
‘There will be no such discussion on gay rights. That issue is foreign to this country.’