Where is Outrage as Zambian Judge Orders Gay Activist Trial to Proceed

I AM WONDERING when we are going to hear more about this travesty from international activists. Has Russia put us to sleep on Africa? Usurping all our outrage for the human right infractions against LGBT people in Africa?

By Melanie Nathan, September 13, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 8.02.02 AM
Paul after being released on bail

The Lusaka High Court has ruled that trial should commence in the lower court in a matter in which gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona is facing one count in the offense of “idle and disorderly conduct by soliciting for immoral purposes.”

Kasonkomona  was picked up and detained after appearing live on Muvi TV station about same-sex marriage rights.  Zambian media uses rhetoric such as “promoting gay rights”. He was held unlawfully for more than 48 hours in detention at Woodlands police station, without release, despite the fact that guarantees had been met. He appeared before Lameck Ngambi at Lusaka Magistrate court.

The Times of Zambia  reports that Particulars allege that Kasonkomona, of Chilulu Garden Township is on April 7, this year solicited for homosexual rights to be respected in Zambia during ‘The Assignment’ programme on Muvi Television.

Before commencement of trial, Kasonkomona had applied to have his case referred to the High Court for determination of Constitutional matters. He had contended that the constitutionality of Section 178 (g) of the Penal Code was vague and violated Article 18 and 20 of the Constitution.

The magistrate Lameck Ng’ambi in his ruling after the application stayed the proceedings and allowed the application of Article 18 and 20 in which the accused claimed that the section violated his fundamental rights.

But in her ruling yesterday, High Court Judge Anne Sharpe Phiri dismissed the application on grounds that there was no Constitutional issue raised concerning the contravention of fundamental rights.

Justice Phiri said a review of the two relevant pieces of legislation showed that Section 178 (g) of the Penal Code referred to a person being ‘idle and disorderly’ by soliciting for immoral purposes whereas Article 20 of the Constitution referred to the fundamental freedoms of expression.

“I am of the considered view that the subject contained under section 178 (g) of the Penal Code was not the same as that contained in Article 20 of the Constitution. The two issues are different. “I therefore find that there was no Constitutional issue concerning the contravention of fundamental rights of the accused and there was no ground for the magistrate to refer the case. I therefore send this file back to the magistrate to deal with the matter,” Ms Justice Phiri said.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 8.28.35 AMIt now seems that these outrageous charges will go forward and that Kasonkomona will stand trial for merely speaking about gay rights on Zambian TV.

Shortly before his arrest, Zambian Government officials had called for what amounted to a “witch hunt” of all gays.

Zambia is also holding two young men in deplorable prison conditions for what essentially is based on a perception that they are a gay couple,  as they await trial for a crime that seems to fall outside the purview of any penal code ( even though the authorities are trying to prove sodomy against them, through alleged unlawful medical examinations) http://oblogdeeoblogda.me/2013/09/01/zambian-gay-trial-continues-as-medical-sodomy-witnesses-fail-to-testify/

I AM WONDERING when we are going to hear more about this travesty from international activists. Has Russia put us to sleep usurping all our outrage for the human right infractions against LGBT people in Africa? Paul is a great man and activist and we should be making a lot more noise on his behalf. Do we only make noise when activists die?

 

Zambian Police Hunting Homosexuals and Arrest HIV/AIDS Activist

by on April 9, 2013  Zambia – LGBTI Community under attack as scapegoats- as government discusses contentious issues in the draft constitution… By Melanie Nathan, April 09, 2013. This evening, prominent HIV/Aids activist Paul Kasonkomona was picked up from Muvi TV station in Lusaka’s mass media area by Woodlands police for questioning after his appearance on a live program called […]

Zambian activist’s constitutional challenge to homophobic arrest and charges

by on May 15, 2013  This Case could have a huge impact on how Gay people’s rights are impacted in Zambia By Melanie Nathan, May 15, 2013. When Zambian Paul Kasonkomona was arrested and detained some minutes after he spoke on a TV show it was clear to many that a flagrant abuse of personal freedoms had occurred and now […]

Activist’s challenge to Zambia’s Constitution after “hunt down gays” arrest

by on May 15, 2013 in   Today  Kasonkomona appeared before the Hon Lemeck Ngambi at Lusaka Magistrates’ Court, charged with “the idle and disorderly offence of soliciting in a public place for immoral purposes.” SBN Legal Practitioners, representing Kasonkomona, filed a constitutional application and so with regard to the criminal case against him,  are asking […]


8 thoughts on “Where is Outrage as Zambian Judge Orders Gay Activist Trial to Proceed

  1. If we were a majority, then yes we could fight our battles in the war against persecution everywhere, on all fronts in the world, all at the same time. However, as a tiny minority of only 5-10%, we rely on our heterosexual families, friends and allies for support. There’s only so much we can ask of all these people who put themselves in harm’s way for us out of the goodness of their hearts, with nothing to gain for themselves.

    We are focusing on Russia right now because it signed up to the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights, has equal protection written into its constitution, and is signatory to the non-discriminatory provisions of the Olympic Charter, yet is hosting international events of good will while being in clear breach of these commitments.

    Please do not think for one moment that any LGBT activist or ally approves of the far worse plights facing LGBT in other countries.

  2. If we were a majority, then yes we could fight our battles in the war against persecution everywhere, on all fronts in the world, all at the same time. However, as a tiny minority of only 5-10%, we rely on our heterosexual families, friends and allies for support. There’s only so much we can ask of all these people who put themselves in harm’s way for us out of the goodness of their hearts, with nothing to gain for themselves.

    We are focussing on Russia right now because it signed up to the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights, has equal protection written into its constitution, and is signatory to the non-discriminatory provisions of the Olympic Charter, yet is hosting international events of good will while being in clear breach of these commitments.

    Please do not think for one moment that any LGBT activist or ally approves of the far worse plights facing LGBT in other countries.

    1. As an LGBT community very few show up for any protests of anykind. Look at how many people show up to a gay bar in a Western country on a Saturday night for a beer or six. Or to a pride parade and party. Imagine if that anount of talent, money and energy was channeled into protests for LGBT decriminalization and rights?

  3. Melanie, you are more than right that we need to keep looking at anti-gay discrimination wherever it appears. So much is going on in Africa and we overlook so much of it.

  4. I think a lot of the difference we see in coverage and interest is due to people tending to be much less interested in stories from countries they know nothing about. Interest in any story at all, seems to be proportional to the degree of pre-existing knowledge & perceptions about its country of origins. It’s largely the way we’re wired. I think the only answer is to point it out at every opportunity, as you are doing. I have the same frustration when in liberal democracies, all the attention goes on to marriage equality, when what is wrecking people’s lives far more are the lack of anti-discrimination laws for employment, charitable services & housing (in the US, for example, there’s little Federal protection & many states have none of their own). The biggest issue IMO in most liberal democracies is the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness. I get frustrated that for various reasons (e.g. activists being mostly middle aged and middle-class, not underprivileged teens just out of school or foster care in a terrible economy with impossible rents), that gets less attention than marriage, so I definitely sympathise with your feelings of injustice & inconsistency about this!

    1. I agree with you that Marriage has over shadowed much of the agenda. But then if you read through my work you will see that I have advocated for full equality as an imperative goal and benchmark for many any years. You will also see that we cover homeless queer youth extensively on this blog.

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