Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Commonwealth member state
Penal Code, S. 155 Unnatural Offences

Section 155 criminalises sex between men with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.1

Penal Code, S. 156 Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences

Section 156 criminalises any attempt to commit “unnatural offences” prohibited under Section 155 with a maximum penalty of fourteen years imprisonment.2

Penal Code, S. 158 Indecent Practices Between Persons of the Same Sex

Section 158 criminalises acts of “gross indecency” both between men and between women with a maximum penalty of fourteen years imprisonment.3

Enforcement

2017

The US Department of State 2017 Human Rights Report on Zambia states that the government enforced laws against same-sex sexual activity during the year. Rather than submit cases for trial, police on several occasions arrested suspected LGBT persons on bogus charges, forcing them to spend at least one night in jail. In most cases police demanded bribes before releasing the individuals.

2015

In May, the High Court of Zambia upheld the judgment of a lower court acquitting LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist Paul Kasonkomona on charges of “soliciting for immoral purposes.” Kasonkomona was arrested in April 2013 after speaking on Zambian television about the need to recognise the rights of vulnerable groups, such as LGBT people, to address the HIV pandemic.

2014

The US Department of State 2014 Human Rights Report on Zambia observed that in 2014 there were arrests but no prosecutions under Zambia’s laws criminalising same-sex activities. The report also noted that “the government [of Zambia] used laws against ‘soliciting for immoral purposes’ to arrest and charge some LGBT activists.”

In July, the Kapiri Mposhi Magistrate Court acquitted two Kapiri Mposhi men suspected of engaging in same-sex relations, noting the prosecution had failed to prove its case against them. The men spent 14 months in remand prison before their acquittal.

2013

In August, Harrison Jere was arrested for allegedly engaging in consensual sodomy with Jackson Musonda after supposedly being caught in the act by the homeowner who was sleeping in the same room.

Statements by Public Figures

2017

The General Secretary of Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), Ponga Liwewe, said after proposing a new draft constitution of the FAZ containing a clause banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in line with regulations from world governing body FIFA: “when it is finalised, it will reflect the laws of the country and the law of football so that there will be no conflict between the two.”

2014

In December, President Edgar Lungu, then a Presidential aspirant who was elected to the role in January 2015, stated: “We will not support homosexuality. I will not compromise human nature because of money.”

We will not support homosexuality. I will not compromise human nature because of money.

President Edgar Lungu

Zambia’s foreign affairs minister Gabriel Namulambe stated in June that: “Zambia is a Christian nation and as such we live by the Christian values and we will not be able to recognize gay rights.”

2013

In November, First Lady of Zambia Doctor Christine Kaseba-Sata called for an end to LGBT discrimination at a UNAIDS event in Lusaka, saying: “Silence around issues of men who have sex with men should be stopped and no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

In May, Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu reacted to a Human Rights Watch report on the manner in which gay suspects have been treated by asserting that there would be no room for negotiation. Lungu said: “There will be no discussion on gay rights. That issue is foreign to this country.”

Police spokeswoman, Elizabeth Kanjela, told the media in April that homosexuality was a serious offence and appealed to the public to report anyone involved to the police. In the same month, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba urged the Zambian public to report homosexuals. He also called on Zambians to reject unanimously people and institutions championing homosexuality. He declared Zambia a “Christian nation … there is no way we can allow this un-Zambian culture.” He urged all citizens to report to law enforcement agencies anyone trying to “import” and sponsor homosexual practices in Zambia.

Tribal chiefs, Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni and Chief Shakumbila of Mumbwa, wrote to the Zambia Daily Mail in April to condemn LGBT people after it reported that four mixed national same-sex couples had sought to have their marriages recognized by a state registrar earlier this month. They stated: “It is not a culture of Zambians, Africans and Ngonis to practice homosexuality and gay people should be caged.”

It is not a culture of Zambians, Africans and Ngonis to practice homosexuality and gay people should be caged.

Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni

On a live radio panel discussion among religious leaders, Minister of Youth and Sports, Chishimba Kambwili, called in during the programme and said defenders of LGBT rights were “agents of the devil”. His statements suggested that the Zambian government will be “introducing stiffer penalties against homosexuality”, instead of repealing the existing laws.

2012

In July, the Zambian Human Rights Commission, in its response to a draft Constitution issued in April, argued against the universal application of some rights. It submitted that an open-ended anti-discrimination clause could be interpreted as including LGBT rights.

Persecution and Discrimination

2014

The US Department of State 2014 Human Rights Report on Zambia found that “according to LGBT advocacy groups, societal violence occurred, as did societal discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education or health care… LGBT groups reported frequent attacks and discrimination in the neighborhoods in which they operated. Activists reported regular harassment, including threats via text message and e-mail, vandalism, stalking, and outright violence.”

Police arrested two transgender individuals in Lusaka’s Kabwata area in October, claiming they “looked gay”. Police told those who attempted to obtain their release that police would use the 24-hour detention period to “teach them a lesson” and released them with no charges only after extracting a bribe.

In May, residents of the Marapodi area of Lusaka apprehended two women suspected of being lesbians, took them to a nearby police station, and demanded police arrest them. After the mob dispersed, police released the two without charge.

Between January and February, the state-owned newspaper Times of Zambia published a series of seven editorials based on pseudoscience that decried homosexuality.

In January, a self-identifying gay man was reportedly attacked by a mob of people which allegedly included three police officers.

2013

Zambian LGBT activist organization Friends of Rainka recorded 43 rights violations against LGBT people in the six months to September 2013. The report concluded that the “continued violence that they [LGBT people] face from state and non-state actors is often unreported in the news, thereby creating a false delusion of tranquility in the Southern African Nation.”

Two gay men aged 19 and 21 were “found in a compromising position” outside a nightclub. They were beaten, yet refused to press charges out of for fear of being charged themselves.

Paul Kasonkomona was arrested in April on leaving a TV station after appearing on a television programme to discuss LGBT and HIV issues and advocate for gay rights to be respected at all costs like any other form of human right. Kasonkomona was charged with the vague offence of ‘soliciting in a public place for immoral purpose’. He was acquitted in February 2014.[x]

2010

The US Department of State’s 2010 Human Rights Report on Zambia found that “the government enforced the law that criminalizes homosexual conduct and did not respond to societal discrimination.”

Legislative News

2018

In its third UPR cycle, Zambia noted the recommendations that it received concerning decriminalisation of consensual same-sex activities between adults.

2012

In its UPR review, Zambia accepted a recommendation to “ensure thorough and impartial investigation into all allegations of attacks and threats against individuals targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, Zambia failed to accept a recommendations to repeal the law criminalizing same-sex sexual relations among consenting adults, having rejected a similar recommendation during the first review cycle in 2008.

During the 2012 review, the Zambian delegation stated that: “the Constitution making process will give the people the opportunity to determine whether specific rights for LGBT persons should be enshrined in the Constitution. The Government was determined not to prescribe to the Zambian people those rights that the Constitution should contain, but to let them make such a determination.”

2011

Zambia abstained on the 2011 Human Rights Council Resolution calling for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on the human rights of LGBT people. The country was one of three abstentions.

Footnotes
1. Penal Code, S. 155 Unnatural Offences

“Any person who-

(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or

(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or

(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature;

commits a felony and liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years and may be liable to imprisonment for life.” Full text.

2. Penal Code, S. 156 Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences

“Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in section one hundred and fifty-five commits a felony and is liable, upon conviction of not less than seven years but not exceeding fourteen years.” Full text.

3. Penal Code, S. 158 Indecent Practices Between Persons of the Same Sex

“(1) Any male who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with a male child or person, or procures a male child or person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male child or person, whether in public or private, commits a felony and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not exceeding fourteen years.

(2) Any female who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with a female child or person, or procures a female child or person to commit any act of gross indecency with her, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any female person with himself or with another female child or person, whether in public or private, commits a felony and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not exceeding fourteen years.” Full text.

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