Last edited: February 14, 2005

Zambian Gays Hold Meeting In Defiance Of Ban

Reuters, September 17, 1998

By Jowie Mwiinga

LUSAKA — Zambian gays on Thursday defied a government ban on homosexual activity to hold their first public meeting in the capital, witnesses said.

The meeting ended abruptly after tempers flared as some unruly people joined the meeting to jeer the homosexual lobby.

Around 40 people — including disinterested observers, such as journalists and human rights activists — attended the stormy session called by the Zambia Independent Monitoring Team (ZIMT).

ZIMT is spearheading the fight for minority rights in this copper-mining southern African nation.

ZIMT leader Alfred Zulu was accused by rival non-governmental organisation (NGO) leaders of "promoting evil" by encouraging the formation of the Lesbians, Gays and Transgender Association (Legatra).

They are accused of compromising traditional Zambian values to appease Western donors, many of whom are sympathetic towards homosexuality.

"While we believe that the rights of homosexuals should be protected, we oppose the planned registration of Legatra. We do not wish to make the idea of homosexuality attractive to our children," said Mike Zulu, spokesman for the National Organisation for Civic Education.

"No donor or international organisation should shape our country, no matter what aid they offer us."

Police said they had no prior knowledge of the meeting and were investigating.

Home affairs minister Peter Machungwa recently directed police to arrest people who engaged in homsexual activity. Under Zambian law, homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.

A debate on whether or not homosexuality should be a crime has dominated the headlines since 25-year old Francis Chisambisha went public about his sexual preference.

Chisambishi was subsequently expelled from college for purportedly tainting its image.

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