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Zambia threatens further criminalization of gays after human rights activist’s arrest

Zambia threatens further criminalization of gays after human rights activist’s arrest

Zambian Government ministers have suggested that penalties for LGBT people may be increased following the arrest of human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona after he appeared on Zambian television to discuss gay rights.

Kasonkomona was arrested last Sunday directly after he appeared on Zambia’s MUVI television channel and was held for three nights before police charged him with being ‘idle and disorderly in a public place.’

Kasonkomona has plead not guilty to the charges.

Following his arrest, Zambian Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili told Radio Phoenix’s Let The Talk program that the government would introduce stiffer laws to curb what he termed ‘gay-ism.’

Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo confirmed the government’s plans.

‘We will not tolerate homosexuality in Zambia – in fact as government we will push for legislation to stiffen punishment,’ Kampyongo said.

Kampyongo told the Times of Zambia that the government had met with religious groups including the Zambia Episcopal Conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, the Council of Churches in Zambia, Seventh Day Adventists and the Islamic Council of Zambia to assure them of the government’s opposition to LGBT rights.

‘The Church has unanimously made it clear that from the biblical and cultural point of view, societal norms do not recognize activities of gay-ism and the Government agrees with this stance,’ Kampyongo said.

‘During the meeting, a representative from the Islamic community said anyone who talks about promoting gay rights is liable to serious punishment under Muslim law.’

Kasonkomona has been released on bail and will next face court on May 15.

In the meantime he has announced that he will sue over his treatment by authorities – alleging that he was unlawfully detained and that he suffered mental distress and injury during his detention.

Kasonkomona also says police denied him access to anti-retroviral medication and drugs to treat tuberculosis while he was being held.