(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Zambia’s Penal Code Act (Cap 87) Article 155 expressly criminalises homosexual relations. Article 158 condemns same sex relations between men, women and children. Men and women violators are punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for ‘a term of not less than seven years and not exceeding fourteen years’.
The Constitution of Zambia condemns discrimination based on race, tribe, sex, place of origin, marital status, political opinion or colour but does not mention sexual orientation. The constitution of Zambia does not recognise its obligation to international agreements or to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
No published cases have been found. Would be grateful if users of this website are able to refer us to any that they know of which involved LGBTI cases from Zambia.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
In November 2019, men were sentenced by the Lusaka High Court to 15 years imprisonment for engaging in same-sex sexual activities. However, in 2020, the two men were granted presidential pardons following a diplomatic row with the US (see below).
Prior to President Edgar Lungu being elected in 2015, in December 2014 he said, ‘we will not support homosexuality. I will not compromise human nature because of money.’ Since his election he has followed this rethoric and has continued to argue against the legalisation of homosexuality. In 2019, after the sentencing of two gay men there were suggestions that the US would cut aid to Zambia. President Lunga stated ‘if you want to be tying your aid to homosexuality…If that is how you will bring your aid then I am afraid the West can leave us alone in our poverty.’
In February 2012 former Republican Vice President George Kunda asked the current government to state its position on homosexuality in Zambia after a visit from Ban Ki Moon called for Zambia to recognise homosexuality rights. Kunda announced that Zambia should not be plagued by foreign culture and must stand strong in their beliefs. In March 2012, Chief Government spokesperson Fackson Shamenda stated that ‘the Government has no intention to legalise homosexuality because there is no reason to do so…. the Government has more pressing issues to address’.
On 29th December 2001, President Frederick Chilba declared Zambia a Christian nation where the large majority of Zambians are religious and hold traditional values.
Some people in Zambia believe that gay men are born homosexual whereras some believe that it is a result of increasing western influence on the African culture. Those campaigning for rights for homosexuals are seen to be selling out to international donors, a result of poverty in the country.
Same-sex male and same-sex female relationships are illegal and due to the patriarchal nature of the Zambian society, protection of lesbian women is said to be even more ‘urgent’. According to a joint report by Global Rights and the IGLHRC, the preservation of codes criminalising homosexuality results in LGBTI persons living in ‘constant fear of arbitrary detention, discrimination in education, employment, housing, and access to services, and extortion’.
According to UNICEF data, the prevalence of HIV/Aids in Zambia has decreased from 60,000 infections in 2010 to 51,000 in 2019, however there are no Government sponsored programs addressing HIV in respect to same sex male relations. The National AIDS Strategic Framework 2017-2021 and the Adolescent Health Strategy 2017-2021 focuses on prevention among children, mothers and adolescents. Counselling centres such as the KARA counselling centre refuse to counsel LGBTI people because it is thought that ‘homosexuality is catching’.
In 2011, Michael Sata leader of the PF political party was criticised for not taking a strong opposing stand against homosexuality. NGOs such as The Zambian Rainbow Coalition have been reported being concerned about the ‘the Satanism which is about to engulf the country’. Similarly an NGO calling itself Zambia Against People with Abnormal Sexual Acts (ZAPASA) was formed to fight against homosexuals. The Catholic Church and The Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) have begun programmes to sensitise people to the dangers of voting for a party that does not completely oppose homosexuals’ rights in Zambia.
According to the ILGA Africa 2000 Report, the majority of the Zambian community is against LGBTI people except for the NGOs, ZIMT, AFRONET and LEGATRA. Except for the reference to them in this report, no information could be found relating to these organisations. It was reported that the President of LEGATRA was attacked twice in 1999. Again, no further information on LEGATRA was able to be found.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
No records could be found of any NGOs working within Zambia focusing on the rights of LGBTI. Readers who have more information on this are encouraged to get in touch with the contact below.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We currently have no Country of Origin Specialists on LGBTI for Zambia, but would welcome suggestions
Researched by: Christina Haneef