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Zambians outraged over UN gay rights call

Zambians outraged over UN gay rights call

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has been asked to apologize after calling on Zambia to respect gay rights.

During a visit to the country last week, Ban said gays have rights that all nations should respect.

'Now you have embarked on a transformation agenda, a process for a new people driven constitution that will be a foundation for Zambia’s progress, a constitution that will stand the test of time,' Ban said.

'This offers Zambia an opportunity to lead once more by enshrining the highest standards of human rights and protections for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.'

However, his comments have enraged the country's conservative Christian community, as well as pressure group The Zambia Rainbow Coalition, who are demanding Ban say sorry for offending people.

'We demand an apology for trying to force or knit into our cultural fiber vices that are offensive and not standing with our moral code as Zambians,' said the coalition's program director Malekano Mwanza.

'We would also like to urge him to concentrate his work with Zambia on development issues.

'As he rightly put in parliament we need development in involvement of women and youth, reduction of poverty, halting and reversing HIV and AIDS, curbing gender based violence, reducing infant and maternal mortality and not the pushing of homosexual issues.'

Mwanza goes on to describe being gay as a 'mental illness' and says that homosexuality can be cured through rehabilitation in the same way as 'robbers, criminals and prostitutes'.

The coalition also describes the secretary-general's remarks as an attempt to force foreign 'cultures in exchange for aid' and called it a new form of colonialism.

Zambia's laws, a leftover from British rule during the colonial era, ban all homosexual activity for both genders.

However, according to the Times of South Africa, a Zambian government official says there are no plans to amend its anti-gay laws.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will consider witholding aid going to African countries which violate the rights of LGBT people.