Monday, 22 March 2010

Zambian LGBT community fears backlash

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Source: ILGA

While Zambia undergoes a Constitution Review Process, the gay community in that country has been dealt a severe blow by the National Constitutional Conference (NCC)’s decision to adopt a clause that prohibits marriage between people of the same sex.

Prior the adoption of the clause, article 47(3) of the proposed constitution provided for marriage between two people of the opposite sex who are above the age of 18 years, however on 18 February 2010 clause 5 was added to article 47 to enforce that, “marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited.”

The move has been met with outrage and has caused “fear and uncertainty in the Zambian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.

Friends of Rainka an LGBTI organisation in Zambia has condemned the move by the NCC, saying it’s a direct attack against an already vulnerable community, which may overshadow any successes that the community has made to date.

“In light of these developments, Zambia continues to regress even further into an abyss of ignorance, intolerance and fear. The challenge for the LGBTI community remains civil society’s option to remain silent while such evils are being perpetrated”, Friends of Rainka stated.

The NCC’s decision has come in the wake of the current persecution of the LGBTI community on the African continent where in Uganda, the Anti Homosexuality Bill before parliament could see the execution of homosexuals if passed and the arrest of a gay couple in Malawi after their marriage as well as the recent anti gay attacks in Kenya.

According to the Post Online (Zambian newspaper), foreign affairs minister Kabinga Pande supported the clause, saying events around the world should be a wake-up call for Zambia to be clear on such issues.

“I think let’s adopt this clause in view of what’s happening in the world. We have people in some other countries that think that same sex marriage is a right. If we are not clear on this one, the same situation could come down to this country some day. It’s a very progressive clause that I urge all to support,” Pande told the Post Online.

Friends of Rainka also highlighted that it is not the first time that Zambian policy makers have taken such a hard and homophobic stance against the LGBTI community since Zambia's former president, Frederick Chiluba once said “homosexuality is the deepest level of depravity, which is unbiblical and abnormal.”

The NCC was established under an Act of Parliament, No. 19 of 2007 which gives it (NCC) legal powers to debate recommend and adopt recommendations from the Mung’omba Draft Constitution and Report.

“The NCC is currently in the process of recommending a timeless constitution, that abhors diversity, that is faith based, a constitution that hypocritical leaders can be comfortable with, that will divide the nation and put human beings in little boxes, based on petty emotions, small mindedness and ignorance”, Friends of Rainka concluded.
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