The delegates to the provincial constitution convention on Thursday vehemently opposed the article, which prescribes affirmative action for the minorities and marginalised groups as an attempt to legalise homosexuality in Zambia.
Practising homosexuality or lesbianism is currently a criminal offence in Zambia under Chapter 87 of the Penal Code.
After protracted debate during the plenary, convention chairperson Solomon Muzyamba asked the delegates to vote by acclamation.
Mr Muzyamba asked those who wanted the article removed from the draft constitution to say yes and those in support to say no.
The response from those who wanted the article removed was a resounding “yes” with only one voice in its support.
Several delegates argued that the article was not necessary because the rights of minorities and marginalised groups, including children, people with disabilities and non-Christians, have been covered by various articles under part five of the Bill of Rights.
Chief Sinazongwe said it will be a great mistake to allow the article to appear in the final constitution because it will embolden homosexuals and lesbians.
“I am very disappointed with this article. We are writing a constitution for ourselves as Zambians and not for a foreign country.
“We have our own culture. It is clear that the article is silently legalising homosexuality and we will not allow that. We don’t want homosexuality in this country. The article must be removed immediately,” Chief Sinazongwe said.
Rusangu University deputy vice chancellor Costa Muyengwe said although affirmative action has helped disadvantaged groups such as black people in the United States, it has created serious social problems which that country is now grappling with.
“Affirmative action has helped to protect minorities and marginalised groups such as black people from discrimination. But it has also brought serious problems. This article will create serious problems for this country and it must be removed,” Dr Miyengwe said.
He was supported by Mapatizya member of Parliament Clive Miyanda, who said it is clear that the article is mischievously forced into the draft constitution to promote homosexuality in the country.
“We shall not allow any article in the new constitution which will undermine our culture. This article is bad and we must remove it,” he said.
But Reverend Norman Mubita urged the delegates to be objective and not to remove the article because it is meant to protect some special groups that may emerge in future from discrimination.
“We should not just look at homosexuality but discuss the article in broader terms. It will protect some unforeseen marginalised groups that may emerge in future,” Rev Mubita said.
by Charles Chisala in Livingstone
Source – MSM Global Forum