Last edited: December 05, 2004

No Legal Organizing in Zambia September 3, 1998

Zambian activists have vowed to fight for their rights, despite official pronouncements that organizing would be a felony.

Zambian Minister of Legal Affairs Vincent Malambo affirmed September 2 that there will be no legal registration of any gay or lesbian organization there because of the national sodomy law, and that in fact since homosexual acts are felonious, organizing such a group would also constitute a felony. But Alfred Zulu, program manager of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Association (LEGATRA), insists that the group will be registered despite Malambo's pronouncements.

Zulu, previously identified in his other roles as president of the Zambia Independent Monitoring Team and Homosexual Proponents for the Legalization of Homosexual Associations in Zambia, insists that the protections of minorities in Part Three of the Zambian Constitution takes precedence over the sodomy law, which he says should be repealed. Currently Chapter 87 of Zambia's Penal Code Act describes homosexuality as an "offense against morality;" Chapter XV, Section 155 says that, "Any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature, or permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years." It is not clear how often this law is actually enforced.

Zulu said that, "LEGATRA will be registered as planned because the Zambian laws are such that we are in a pluralist society where our laws allow freedom of association and assembly. ... Registration is going on as planned..." Zulu condemned as bigoted remarks by Malambo and by Minister of Broadcasting David Mpamba that homosexuality is "unAfrican," and called on the public to ignore them; Zulu even hinted that some government officials are themselves closeted. Mpamba in turn had called on Zulu to resign, alleging that he had misinformed the public on homosexuality.

"The Post" of Zambia recently ran a pioneering four-part series on homosexuality in which Francis Yabe Chisambisha identified himself as a gay man and said he had a group of gay friends who were interested in forming an association to obtain their civil rights. Zulu then came forward to say that homosexual orientation was not sinful but inborn, and that "Gay people, just like lesbians, are normal people and are entitled to fundamental human rights and should not be discriminated against," but should be protected by law. Zulu also said that his own gay and lesbian civil rights group had met with like-minded groups from the Netherlands and the U.S. (Zulu also said that ZIMT was sponsoring a dozen gays and lesbians to attend the World Council of Churches global conference in December in Harare, Zimbabwe.)

Ironically, "The Post" series attributed current discussions of homosexuality to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's diatribes against it dating back to 1995, when he blocked an attempt by the group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) to display literature at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair.

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