Freedom of speech – not for gays?

Just over a week ago gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona appeared on a live talk show on a local Zambian TV channel. As he left the studio he found himself arrested by police waiting outside. Homosexuality is an “illegal act” under the laws of Zambia. However as this man had merely spoken about the subject it seemed the police struggled to find something to charge him with. After spending a few days behind bars he was finally charged with incitement (“inciting people to commit indecent activities”). This incident together with an incident where four gay couples attempted to register same-sex marriages in Lusaka but were turned away has caused the hot topic of gay rights to boil over once again. The police even came out in media urging people to report (to nearest police station) anyone engaging in homosexual behavior or promoting the same. I already blogged about gay rights here when it last came up after UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moons visit to the country in March 2012.

This time however it seem like you are not even allowed to talk about the issue. This seriously infringes on our right to freedom of speech and expression. As people in general in Zambia are against the idea of allowing gays to enjoy equal rights it worries me that it appears fine that one can be arrested on vague grounds as long as the person don’t share the common opinion of the society. So no freedom of speech if you are gay and/or lobby for their equal rights!

Zambia is in the middle of forming a new constitution and the issue of gay rights was brought up at the ongoing National Constitution Convention as the draft constitution has an article protecting minorities from discrimination. The article was first passed but after concerns were raised that gays could possibly “abuse” this to gain rights, it was suggested it must state that it excludes homosexuals. So it seems that Zambia is even further from accepting people for who they are and how they want to live their lives.

 

Read more posts/articles on the issue here:

Gay rights activist arrested (Mwebantu New Media)

Gay activist Kasonkomona charged with incitement (Zambia reports)

Zambia police launch a manhunt for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) activists (Mwebantu New Media) 

Minister Lungu orders arrest of gay couples (Zambia Reports)

New constitution to ban homosexuality (Zambia Reports)

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