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Zambian men must wait to hear their fate as gay sex court case is delayed

Zambian men must wait to hear their fate as gay sex court case is delayed

Two Zambian men will have to wait to discover if they will spend 14 years in jail over sodomy charges after the prosecution delayed their court case.

Philip Mubiana and James Mwape have been in custody since 6 May this year and were due to appear in court yesterday (16 September).

The new date of the hearing has yet to be announced.

This comes a week after Amnesty International demanded the ‘unconditional’ and immediate release of the two men, who, if convicted under the Zambian sodomy laws, could face 14 years in jail.

Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty’s Zambia researcher, said: ‘It is high time that individuals stopped being persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people.’

There are reports, confirmed by Central Province Commissioner of Police Standwell Lungu, that doctors forcibly conducted anal exams on the two men – considered a form of torture by international bodies.

‘Anal exams are inherently invasive, abusive, profoundly humiliating and conducted for reasons based purely on discrimination,’ Mawanza added.

‘This procedure is not only scientifically illegitimate, it is also a form of sexual assault and is tantamount to torture. Any “findings” that result from it cannot be used as evidence in a trial against the victims.’

Zambia is obligated to outlaw this kind of treatment, having ratified the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The concerns for human rights, especially those pertaining to LGBT people, in Zambia are continuing escalate following a ruling by Zambian High Court Justice Anne Sharpe Phiri stating an activists right to free speech does not extend to the discussion of LGBT rights.

This ruling not only severely restricts free speech but may also damage efforts to halt the spread of HIV in the country by limiting aid groups in their efforts to reach to at risk groups.

A petition demanding the release of the men has already attracted over 36,000 signatures. It calls on The President of Zambia Michael Sata, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to act.