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March 14, 2014

Zambia Prosecutes Gay Couple for “Unnatural Offences”

The persecution of Zambian gay couple Phillip Mubiana and James Mwape continued this week as their court case resumed in the Central Province capital of Kabwe. Charged with committing “unnatural offences” under section 155 of the Zambian Penal Code, the men could face 14 years in prison if convicted.

Nearly a year ago, in April, 2013, one of the men’s sisters informed local police that Mubiana and Mwape were involved in a sexual relationship. They were arrested and since early May have remained in custody, facing a barrage of abuse by their jailers, including reported multiple forced anal examinations.

Zambia is yet another in a growing number of African nations gaining international attention for persecution of the LGBT community. Recently Uganda and Nigeria signed into law legislation that expands the powers of the state to violate the human rights of LGBT people and increase jail terms for gay men engaging in consensual sexual activity. Now, in the first ever trial for a gay couple in the country’s history, Zambia is joining the vanguard of African homophobia.

At the end of this week’s session, the judge declared a recess until March 26th.

Human Rights First urges the United States to continue to demonstrate leadership on this issue by working with African nations to stop passage of discriminatory laws and promote the protection of LGBT rights as human rights.