Behind the Mask LGBT African website
1a In Zambia , Breaking Rocks for Meager Existence 8/96 (non-gay background story)
August 2, 1996 – The New York Times
In Zambia , Breaking Rocks for Meager Existence
by Donald G. McNeil,
Missie’s Compound, Zambia – They spend their daystheir careers, breaking big rocks into little ones. At the very bottom of the economic chain here are the stone-breakers: impoverished Zambians, most of them women, like Catherine Thembo, Esther Zulu and Ruth Mbewe. One hand wields a four-pound hammer and the other steadies the chunks of limestone on a rock anvil. Those with babies bring them along all day, wrapped in a blanket with the child’s face into her mother’s shoulder or against her left breast (the one away from the hammer hand), the mouth pressed into the bare dust-covered flesh as much for protection against chips and for comfort from the clanging as for nourishment.
A week’s work may produce a knee-high pile of gravel that can be sold for $8 to a contractor who wants to pave a driveway or mix a concrete floor. Dump trucks pull up, their drivers buying a pile here and a pile there. Sometimes they instead want dirt, or sand, which are also sold in mounds at the roadside–usually by a man rich enough to own a wheelbarrow and a shovel. The average income in Zambia is about $350 a year, but these women don’t earn that. They may sell only one or two piles a month. Since Frederick J.T. Chiluba became president in 1991, Zambia, under the eyes of the International Monetary Fund, has begun the most aggressive privatization program in Africa. It put more than 200 state-owned companies up for sale, floated the currency and dropped all exchange controls. It also ended all subsidies on food.
As a result, the price of a 50-pound bag of mielie meal–corn grits, the staple of the poor here–has risen from $2 to $7. The nation is deep in "structural adjustment shock," and few are in deeper shock than the stone-breakers. "I have worked here 13 years," said Mrs. Zulu, who guesses she is about 50. "I am feeling so tired. I have no more power of breaking." Across town, at one of the bright white piles that stretch for half a mile along Alick Nkhata Road , Ude Chamkula has been a stone-breaker for five years. She is 17. Her baby girl, Sylvia, is eight months old. But she will presumably grow big enough to help her mother, as other toddlers around do.
December 31, 2003 – 365Gay
Zambians Drop Ties with USA Episcopal Church Over Gay Bishop
by Malcolm Thornberry, 365Gay.com Newscenter, European Bureau Chief
Lusaka, Zambia – The Anglican Church in Zambia is the latest African church to cut ties with the Episcopal Church USA over the consecration of an openly gay bishop but it has also gone step further. The Zambian Church is also severing its relationship with the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the worldwide faith, because a sizable number of Church of England bishops support Bishop Gene Robinson the American bishop of New Hampshire.
Zambian bishop Derek Kamukwamba called Robinson’s consecration "appalling" adding that homosexual relations were unbiblical in that God created man and woman so that they could get married. Kamukwamba said the Zambian Church would only maintain ties with Anglican churches opposed to Robinson’s appointment. Besides the Zambian church, others that have cut ties with U.S. Anglicans include the Anglican Church in South East Asia, the Church of Uganda and the Church of Nigeria, the continent’s largest Anglican church. Together they represent nearly half of the worldwide Anglican communion.
May 11, 2005 – New York Times
AIDS Now Compels Africa to Challenge Widows’ ‘Cleansing’–(Malawi, Zambia, Kenya)
by Sharon LaFranieremchinji, Malawi – In the hours after James Mbewe was laid to rest three years ago, in an unmarked grave not far from here, his 23-year-old wife, Fanny, neither mourned him nor accepted visits from sympathizers. Instead, she hid in his sister’s hut, hoping that the rest of her in-laws would not find her.
But they hunted her down, she said, and insisted that if she refused to exorcise her dead husband’s spirit, she would be blamed every time a villager died. So she put her two small children to bed and then forced herself to have sex with James’s cousin.
" I cried, remembering my husband," she said. "When he was finished, I went outside and washed myself because I was very afraid. I was so worried I would contract AIDS and die and leave my children to suffer."
Here and in a number of nearby nations including Zambia and Kenya, a husband’s funeral has long concluded with a final ritual: sex between the widow and one of her husband’s relatives, to break the bond with his spirit and, it is said, save her and the rest of the village from insanity or disease. Widows have long tolerated it, and traditional leaders have endorsed it, as an unchallenged tradition of rural African life.
Now AIDS is changing that. Political and tribal leaders are starting to speak out publicly against so-called sexual cleansing, condemning it as one reason H.I.V. has spread to 25 million sub-Saharan Africans, killing 2.3 million last year alone. They are being prodded by leaders of the region’s fledging women’s rights movement, who contend that lack of control over their sex lives is a major reason 6 in 10 of those infected in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
But change is coming slowly, village by village, hut by hut. In a region where belief in witchcraft is widespread and many women are taught from childhood not to challenge tribal leaders or the prerogatives of men, the fear of flouting tradition often outweighs even the fear of AIDS.
" It is very difficult to end something that was done for so long," said Monica Nsofu, a nurse and AIDS organizer in the Monze district in southern Zambia, about 200 miles south of the capital, Lusaka. "We learned this when we were born. People ask, Why should we change?"
In Zambia, where one out of five adults is now infected with the virus, the National AIDS Council reported in 2000 that this practice was very common. Since then, President Levy Mwanawasa has declared that forcing new widows into sex or marriage with their husband’s relatives should be discouraged, and the nation’s tribal chiefs have decided not to enforce either tradition, their spokesman said. Still, a recent survey by Women and Law in Southern Africa found that in at least one-third of the country’s provinces, sexual "cleansing" of widows persists, said Joyce MacMillan, who heads the organization’s Zambian chapter. In some areas, the practice extends to men.
Some Defy the Risk
Even some Zambian volunteers who work to curb the spread of AIDS are reluctant to disavow the tradition. Paulina Bubala, a leader of a group of H.I.V.-positive residents near Monze, counsels schoolchildren on the dangers of AIDS. But in an interview, she said she was ambivalent about whether new widows should purify themselves by having sex with male relatives.
Her husband died of what appeared to be AIDS-related symptoms in 1996. Soon after the funeral, both Ms. Bubala and her husband’s second wife covered themselves in mud for three days. Then they each bathed, stripped naked with their dead husband’s nephew and rubbed their bodies against his. Weeks later, she said, the village headman told them this cleansing ritual would not suffice. Even the stools they sat on would be considered unclean, he warned, unless they had sex with the nephew.
" We felt humiliated," Ms. Bubala said, "but there was nothing we could do to resist, because we wanted to be clean in the land of the headman." The nephew died last year. Ms. Bubala said the cause was hunger, not AIDS. Her husband’s second wife now suffers symptoms of AIDS and rarely leaves her hut. Ms. Bubala herself discovered she was infected in 2000.
But even the risk of disease does not dent Ms. Bubala’s belief in the need for the ritual’s protective powers. "There is no way we are going to stop this practice," she said, "because we have seen a lot of men and women who have gone mad" after spouses died. Ms. Nsofu, the nurse and AIDS organizer, argues that it is less important to convince women like Ms. Bubala than the headmen and tribal leaders who are the custodians of tradition and gatekeepers to change.
" We are telling them, ‘If you continue this practice, you won’t have any people left in your village,’ " she said. She cites people, like herself, who have refused to be cleansed and yet seem perfectly sane. Sixteen years after her husband died, she argues, "I am still me." Ms. Nsofu said she suggested to tribal leaders that sexual cleansing most likely sprang not from fears about the vengeance of spirits, but from the lust of men who coveted their relatives’ wives. She proposes substituting other rituals to protect against dead spirits, like chanting and jumping back and forth over the grave or over a cow.
Headman Is a Firm Believer
Like their counterparts in Zambia, Malawi’s health authorities have spoken out against forcing widows into sex or marriage. But in the village of Ndanga, about 90 minutes from the nation’s largest city, Blantyre, many remain unconvinced.
Evance Joseph Fundi, Ndanga’s 40-year-old headman, is courteous, quiet-spoken and a firm believer in upholding the tradition. While some widows sleep with male relatives, he said, others ask him to summon one of the several appointed village cleansers. In the native language of Chewa, those men are known as fisis or hyenas because they are supposed to operate in stealth and at night. Mr. Fundi said one of them died recently, probably of AIDS. Still, he said with a charming smile, "We can not abandon this because it has been for generations."
Since 1953, Amos Machika Schisoni has served as the principal village cleanser. He is uncertain of his age and it is not easily guessed at. His hair is grizzled but his arms are sinewy and his legs muscled. His hut of mud bricks, set about 50 yards from a graveyard, is even more isolated than most in a village of far-flung huts separated by towering weeds and linked by dirt paths.
What Tradition Dictates
He and the headman like to joke about the sexual demands placed upon a cleanserlike Mr. Schisoni, who already has three wives. He said tradition dictates that he sleep with the widow, then with each of his own wives, and then again with the widow, all in one night. Mr. Schisoni said that the previous headman chose him for his sexual prowess after he had impregnated three wives in quick succession.
Now, Mr. Schisoni, said he continues his role out of duty more than pleasure. Uncleansed widows suffer swollen limbs and are not free to remarry, he said. "If we don’t do it, the widow will develop the swelling syndrome, get diarrhea and die and her children will get sick and die," he said, sitting under an awning of drying tobacco leaves. "The women who do this do not die."
His wives support his work, he said, because they like the income: a chicken for each cleansing session. He insisted that he cannot wear a condom because "this will provoke some other unknown spirit." He is equally adamant in refusing an H.I.V. test. "I have never done it and I don’t intend to do it," he said.
To protect himself, he said, he avoids widows who are clearly quite sick . Told that even widows who look perfectly healthy can transmit the virus, Mr. Schisoni shook his head. "I don’t believe this," he said. At the traditional family council after James Mbewe was killed in a truck accident in August 2002, Fanny Mbewe’s mother and brothers objected to a cleanser, saying the risk of AIDS was too great. But Ms. Mbewe’s in-laws insisted, she said. If a villager so much as dreamed of her husband, they told her, the family would be blamed for allowing his spirit to haunt their community on the Malawi-Zambia border.
Her husband’s cousin, to whom she refers only as Loimbani, showed up at her hut at 9 o’clock at night after the burial.
" I was hiding my private parts," she said in an interview in the office of Women’s Voice, a Malawian human rights group. "You want to have a liking for a man to have sex, not to have someone force you. But I had no choice, knowing the whole village was against me." Loimbani, she said, was blasé. "He said: ‘Why are you running away? You know this is our culture. If I want, I could even make you my second wife." He did not. He left her only with the fear that she will die of the virus and that her children, now 8 and 10, will become orphans. She said she is too fearful to take an H.I.V. test. " I wish such things would change," she said.
May 09, 2007 – news24.com
Prison sex abuse slammed
Lusaka – Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has ordered prison authorities to stop the rampant cases of sexual abuse in Zambian prisons, a state-run newspaper said on Wednesday. Mwanawasa said violent convicts engaging in sodomy by forcing themselves on young inmates was a repugnant behaviour which must be stopped.
"This cannot be tolerated. These people are in your custody and must therefore be protected from violent criminals…," he was quoted by the Zambia Daily Mail as having told the prison authorities. Human rights organisations in Zambia have voiced their concern over the reported increase in young prisoners who are abused by their fellow inmates.
Mwanawasa also said that sexual abuse contributed to the increase in the number of cases of HIV/Aids, which was creating problems for the country’s social and economic development. "I understand the cases of sodomy are widespread, resulting in some prisoners getting infected with HIV/Aids," he said.
July 26, 2007 – Behind the Mask
New Study of MSM to be Conducted in Zambia
by Nthateng Mhlambiso (BTM Senior Reporter)
For the first time in Zambia, men having sex with other men (MSM) will have a government endorsed assessment aimed at identifying their existence and sexual behaviours in relation to HIV and Aids. This is done to draw the government’s attention to health issues faced by MSM in that country. Spearheaded by US-based Centre for Disease Control (CDC) together with the Zambian Ministry of Health and the Society for Family Health International, the assessment “is exciting and will give some sort of identity for MSM in Zambia” according to Riva Ukwimi, who is the project coordinator of Friends of Rainka (FORP) at the Society for Family Health.
Elucidating the implementation of the assessment, Ukwimi said; “We will use a referral system, starting by giving a certain number of MSM cards to pass them to their friends. We are still going to meet to decide what is to be written on those cards but it has to be something that will not perpetuate stigmatization but at the same time be recognized as an MSM assessment.” He added that they will also have tollfree numbers where people can call in. “There will also be a screening process where people will be asked questions from questionnaires, and from their responses we will be able to know whether they qualify to visit our offices as MSM.”
Expected to begin on 1 September, coordinators are presently training counselors who will advice these MSM. The project will run from September to January 2008. Ukwimi pointed out that this assessment is not only important to MSM but to the whole Zambian society. “There are MSM who lure young boys who are not necessarily MSM to have sex with them for money. These boys might be having their girlfriends and if they contract STIs or HIV and Aids they can spread it to the whole society.” BTM questioned if this assessment is not exclusive as it only targets MSM only and not women having sex with women. In responding, Ukwimi said that there must be reasons for CDC to target MSM only for now. “Some of the reasons might be that MSM are at a very high risk of contracting HIV and Aids and STIs because they perform anal sex that is said to be very risky.”
Asked whether the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Zambia will not hinder this assessment, Ukwimi said; “This is a government endorsed project, so it should not be a problem.” He also highlighted that homosexuality is not a problem per se in Zambia, “Conflicts begin only when we want it to be constitutionalised. So far I have not heard of any cases of hate crimes or any bashing of gay people”, he said. “ It is a good start by the Ministry of Health of the republic of Zambia”, Ukwimi concluded.
December 10, 2007 – Lusaka Post
Homosexuality at University of Zambia
by Sebastian Chipako
Clad in a tight black hipster jean, highlights by a matching silk skinny top popularly known among females as a ‘gypsy top’ a skinny figure walks majestically in a seductive movement of the hips from left to right, while the hands hang loose in a carefree manner. As the arms swing to and fro, one can not help but notice the evident lack of hips. What actually seems t be n view right now is a body structure that is more masculine than feminine. This is so because the person is indeed male and not female. This figure is that of one of the infamous male students with different sexual preference. To be specific, they are homosexuals. Although the culture of homosexuality is not very prominent in Zambia, it is however slowly but noticeably becoming acceptable. Recently, the University of Zambia was engrossed in a scandal involving a student was caught in the act with another significantly older white man. While this is just one incident that was brought to light, the fact is that there are activities homosexuality at UNZA.
“I have seen male students embracing and doing inappropriate things at the lovers’ lane (a road around student hostels where people in relationships take strolls at UNZA), it very disgusting and so wrong,” Melinda a second year student in the school of humanities says. Melinda says that the issue of homosexuality is more rampant among male students at the university, she however admits that there are some female student practicing homosexuality and some are evident by their male-like mannerisms and male clothes they wear.
As Melinda says this, she is evidently disturbed and slowly becoming emotional about the topic. She explains incoherently that the gays and lesbians are the ones who are fast eroding the morals and denting the image of the school. “The gay who was caught with a white man should be locked up together with the boyfriend.” She says with emphasis. And a third year student in the school of humanities Nathan Phiri explains that to other student homosexuality is just an escape from poverty and material deprivation. He claims that some male students prostitute for money. ”They look for white men with money; that is what happened with that guy who was caught and they are many. It is not just him,” Nathan says. He adds that the homosexuals at UNZA are only influenced by what they see on television.
While some people life Melinda and Nathan are upset by the homosexual topic, others are sympathetic. A third year student who declined to be named has very contrary views. He says this it is norm to have different sexual preferences and that it is simply a normal variation in the human condition just like some people are left handed, the minority is homosexual in their orientation. It is some kind of a disorder that people are born with and cannot simply get rid of. Regardless of the views of others, homosexuality is not easily acceptable in the Zambian society, however the issue that arises is whether homosexuality is genetic or just a habit people pick as they grow up. According to Mr. A. Merdinger in his article entitled ‘Homosexuality and the Truth’, he asserts that homosexuality to others is an aberration, the orientation is a disorder and the behaviour is pathological. And the opposing view is that homosexuality is a normal variant in the human condition that is determined before birth and that homosexual behavior is natural for those oriented as such.
Merdinger says that the only hard biological evidence that there is clearly indicates it is a disorder, in that homosexuality represents a tendency to want to use body parts for some purpose other than that for which they were designed. “The penis and vagina are certainly constructed for male-female intercourse. Their complimentary shapes, the location of highly sensitive nerve endings how without a doubt the divine intent,” he says. And a research carried out by Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute of Colorado Springs in the USA, concluded that at least three explanations seemed possible in explaining the causes of homosexuality. The first possible account is that people fall into homosexuality because they are sexually permissive and experimental. This view implies that homosexuals choose their lifestyles through their unwillingness t play by the rules of society. The second view says that homosexuality is a mental illness symptomatic of arrested development. These unnatural desires are a consequence of poor familial relations or some sort of trauma.
While people like Dr. Cameron have different views on how people end up with such sexual preferences, other students affirm the notion that most poor student are likely to be involved in homosexuality obviously for monetary gains whether this is the case remains a mystery, but the fact still remains that homosexuality is widespread at UNZA and is getting tolerated gradually. The big question to everyone then is, what has happened to our cultural values in Zambia? Are we slowly being carried away by the standards set up by the Western world of accepting the practice of homosexuality? What has happened to the fact that Zambia is a Christian nation? The nation’s moral fibre is slowly but surely deteriorating, it is up to us to correct it.
18 December 2007 – Truthout Issues
Human Rights Watch Highlights Obstacles to AIDS Drugs for Zambian Women
The Associated Press
Lusaka, Zambia – Domestic violence and poverty are preventing many Zambian women from accessing AIDS drugs, undermining the Zambian government’s ambitious treatment program, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The New York-based rights watchdog released a report focused on women’s treatment in Zambia, based on interviews earlier this year with 83 women in the urban centers of Lusaka and the northern Copperbelt region, as well police, health counselors, and government and non-governmental organizations.
The government has made AIDS treatment drugs free and put more than 93,000 people on them with the help of international donors in Zambia, a southern African nation of 11.5 million that is still largely poor despite recent economic growth. About 16 percent of adults are HIV-positive here. In urban areas, the prevalence rate exceeds 20 percent, with HIV infection rates higher among women. The report documented a variety of cases where HIV-positive women were prevented from taking AIDS drugs, or from adhering to their proper regimens.
"We would like to commend the way the Zambian government has actively dealt with HIV/AIDS treatment," Nada Ali, the author of the report, told journalists at a press conference. "However, for many Zambian women, receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis might still be equivalent to a death sentence."
Stigma against HIV-positive people is still common in many parts of Zambia. In some cases, the fear of violence from their husbands prevented women from getting tested for HIV or beginning or adhering properly to their treatment, according to the report. Some women would hide their medication in flower pots or holes in the ground, or be forced to come up with lies to explain their absence when they went to health clinics, the report said, adding that health counselors are not trained to deal with issues surrounding violence against women.
In other cases, women were left without money for transportation or food after divorce or their husband’s death due to property laws that favor men, and the practice of "property grabbing," in which a deceased man’s family seizes his widow’s property, often rendering her destitute. The result, the report says, is that many women are unable to go to health clinics or keep up a proper diet, which is necessary if AIDS drugs are to be effective. Human Rights Watch urged the Zambian government to adopt legislation to prevent and deal with sexual and domestic violence, support efforts to change property law, modify health policies and ensure that health counselors can deal with the gender abuse issues, establish shelters for female victims of abuse and strengthen the government’s Victim Support Unit.
Elizabeth Mataka, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS, said that while the report was timely, community-based programs specifically giving women and girls financial and legal options are more necessary than additional high-level policies on gender. "Women’s organizations must begin now to map out strategies that will address this problem," she said. "We need to move … from talking to action. There has to be a change of mind-set at the community level."
27th February 2008 – PinkNews
African lesbian conference demands equal rights
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Lesbians from across Africa have held a conference in Mozambique to highlight the homophobia and prejudice they face across the continent. Most nations in Africa criminalise same-sex relationships and in some countries gay people can be put to death. The Coalition of African Lesbians conference was attended by more than 100 delegates.
Women from 14 African countries gathered in Namibia’s capital Windhoek in August 2004 to develop the Coalition of African Lesbians. Lesbian organisations and a number of individual women from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia are members of the organisation. "Our main goal is that lesbian and homosexuality can no longer be seen as a criminal offence," the group’s director and conference spokeswoman Fikile Vilakazi told Reuters. "You should not be arrested and charged for how you use your own body."
The coalition lobbies for political, legal social, sexual, cultural and economic rights of African lesbians by engaging strategically with African and international structures and allies and to eradicate stigma and discrimination against lesbians. South Africa, one of the few countries on the continent where gay men and lesbians are allowed to marry and legally protected from discrimination, has been rocked by several murders of prominent lesbian activists.
Sizakele Sigasa, 34, an activist for HIV/AIDS and LGBT rights, and Salome Masooa, 24, were discovered dead at field in Soweto, Johannesburg, on July 8th. They had both been shot and, it is suspected, raped.
On 22nd July Thokozane Qwabe, 23, was found in a field in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal with multiple head wounds. She was naked and it is thought she was also raped.
February 27, 2008 – Lusaka Post
Homosexuality: The African Perspective
by Masuzyo Chakwe
Some politicians have called them the ‘festering fingers’ endangering the body of the nation:while others have sasis they are worse than pigs and dogs; some churchmen say God wants them dead: and the send them to jail. The issue of homosexuality has excited deep and often extreme reactions in Africa. In Uganda, for example, the practice referred to as ‘carnal knowledge of another against the order of nature’ has been outlawed by President Museveni while Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe said homosexuals were ‘worse than pigs.’ But South Africa has the most permissive gay rights legislation in the whole world, and also hosts several successful Gay Pride marches. South African lawmakers have passed legislation recognizing gay marriages despite criticism from both traditionalists and gay activists. In Zambia, the sexual orientation however referred to is heterosexuality and the other sexual orientation is outlawed.
The formation of Lesbians, Gays and Transgender Persons Association (LEGATRA) a few years ago led to an uproar by the Zambian community. The Zambian government it would never pass a law to allow gay marriages. Home Affairs minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said last year that Zambia maintains its Christian status and would not allow sinful practices. He said homosexual marriages were a sin in the eyes of God.
But is this solving the problem?
In some western countries, homosexual has been legalized and gay men and women even allowed to marry. In Denmark, for example, homosexuality is legal and a gay couple can even have their marriage blessed if he (the priest) agrees to it. It is said that half of the people that are HIV positive are men who have sex with men and there are even organizations that have been formed to fight AIDS among them. StopAIDS executive director Jacob Haff says societies should treat homosexuals with the same respect as other individuals. Haff is gay himself and says homosexuality or being gay is like a flavour or taste.
StopAIDS is a gay men’s HIV organization with the purpose of reducing the spread of HIV among MSM (men who have sex with men) in Denmark. He says gay people (gay and lesbians) will always be a minority, which is some ways will means that they are and feel different. Homosexuality can refer to both attraction or sexual behavior between organisms of the same sex, or to a sexual orientation. “We are funded by the government, with a grant of 6 million kroner (US$1,200,000) every year. We do information. Campaigns, outreach in the gay community and group work about safe sex,” he says.
Haff says as a boy he was sensitive, intelligent, did his school homework, liked to read books and talked to grown-ups instead of playing football with other boys. “I was not a quiet and timid boy. I loved to tell stories ans make people laugh, but I liked the company of girls; they are often more mature than boys the same age. At the age of 12 I began to experiment sexually with other boys ans already as a teenager I was rather sure I preferred boys togirls. I found it difficult to accept this. But as the age of 20 I was convinced that was my way.” He says.
He says at 22 he came out in the open. “I looked up a friend, whom I knew was gay, and told him my story and he introduced me to the gay community of Copenhagen. I immediately began working as a volunteer at the gay radio station, and continued this work for many years. For me it was a good alternative to the discos and bars. It gave me friends and a network,” he says. Haff says he also told his family and friends too. He says by that time his father had already died and already, but his mother was very understanding.
Haff says being the worried mother-type though, she asked herself whether this being different would give him problems. “And of course it does, in many little ways. But most of the time being different does not worry me. I find it quite okay and sometimes even an advantage. People are different in so many ways, and this is just one of them. Some people like chicken, some like fish, some like women, some like men,” he ways. He says his friends were all very easy about it and today many of his friends and network are gay.
“Being gay also means you automatically are part of a community, or brotherhood, which goes around the world. So when traveling you can get a lot of interesting contacts and meet new friends, which I really enjoy,” he says. Haff says he has not been to Africa, but he cannot imagine homosexuality to be absent on the continent. He says denying that men have sex with men (and women with women) means suppressing these people, so that they cannot speak freely about their lives and needs.
“Especially in relation to HIV this can be–and I am sure, has been—fatal, because this is the first step in fighting the disease: acknowledging its existence and who it is that gets the virus and pass it on. It is extremely important to give information to men who have sex with men, tailored to their sexual habits and in an open and frank tone and also in a non-discriminating tone. Prevention resources, such as condoms and information should be directed at men who have sex with men, so that they can protect themselves and their partners,” he says.
Dr. Mannasseh Phiri (who writes a weekly HIV column for this newspaper) last year said debating whether homosexuality is natural or unnatural, genetic or acquired, legal or illegal, is like the old and tired argument that HIV was deliberately manufactured in a laboratory for sinister motives. He said it merely wastes valuable time and energies that could be used to dealing with real problems around HIV and AIDS today. “MSM exist amongst us They are not deranged or sick. They are people, normal gentle people, who mind their own business and, as one of them said, ‘do not harass anyone.’ They will not go away just because we many not like them or what they do. We cannot afford to ignore them and hope to tackle HIV and AIDS effectively. The enemy is the virus and not people’s sexual orientation. Men who have sex with men exist amongst society,” said Phiri.
6th March 2008 – PinkNews
Call for action against bogus AIDS cures
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
A leading human rights group has called on the United Nations to act against the proliferation of unproven treatments for AIDS. An article published in the peer-reviewed journal Globalisation and Health, Human Rights Watch cited examples of the promotion of these remedies in countries as diverse as Zambia, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, India, and Zimbabwe.
Human Rights Watch says the UN and its member states are failing to address serious threats to life and health posed by the promotion of unproven AIDS ‘cures’ and by counterfeit antiretroviral drugs. "Fake cures have been promoted since AIDS was first identified," said Joseph Amon, HIV/AIDS programme director at Human Rights Watch and author of the article. "In the era of expanded antiretroviral treatment programmes, the failure of governments to monitor these false claims and ensure accurate information about life-saving antiretroviral drugs undermines global efforts to fight AIDS."
In Gambia in February 2007 President Yahya Jammeh claimed to have developed a herbal cure for AIDS that was effective in three days if people taking the treatment discontinued taking antiretroviral drugs and refrained from alcohol, caffeine, and sex. Following the announcement, Gambian journalists who criticised the so-called cure were fired, and the UN resident coordinator in Gambia, Fadzai Gwaradzimba, was permanently expelled for asking for scientific proof of the treatment’s effectiveness. Last week the Gambian government announced with much fanfare that Jammeh had been awarded an honorary degree in Herbal and Homeopathic medicine by the Brussels-based Jean Monnet European University. In accepting the degree, Jammeh announced that he had discovered cures for obesity and impotence, adding to his previously declared ‘cures’ for infertility, diabetes, and asthma.
Also in 2007, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced the discovery of IMOD (an abbreviation for immuno-modulator drug), a herbal AIDS treatment made from seven local Iranian herbs. The government has promoted the drug as a "therapeutic vaccine" and as the "first choice" for treatment in resource-constrained developing countries. The President’s Office for Technology Cooperation has also promoted the remedy and sought partners for joint marketing, clinical trials, and manufacturing.
According to news reports in November 2007, the Iranian Minister of Health and Medical Education stated that all patients with
advanced HIV disease – more than 1,500 overall – would be treated with IMOD.
"Countries are gambling with the lives of people living with HIV by promoting unproven AIDS remedies,” said Mr Amon. "The UN should condemn this practice and work with governments and civil society groups to ensure that effective AIDS treatment and information about it are provided.
December 16, 2008 – Human Rights Watch
Zambia: Curbing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
by Nada Ali
The news of the opening of a hospital-based crisis center in Kabwe, Zambia, to address the complex needs of women survivors of sexual and gender-based violence was music to my ears; given that in 2007 I listened to heart-wrenching accounts by Zambian women, including women living with HIV. Gender-based violence devastated the lives of many of those women.
One woman I interviewed in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, whom I will call Mercy, told me: "I got married in 2004 and my husband started giving me STDs [sexually transmitted diseases]….He goes out with women. When I ask for a condom, or go to the clinic to get treatment, he starts beating me. In January 2006 I went for VCT [voluntary counseling and testing for HIV]…The results came positive. From the time I got the results, he started beating me up. ..He beat me everywhere. When I was four months pregnant he beat me until the placenta came out."
As Mercy’s story shows, sexual violence is one factor driving the devastating HIV epidemic in Zambia, which has one of the highest rates in the world. United Nations statistics show that 15.2 percent of Zambia’s adults are living with HIV, and that about 60 percent of those infected are women. Research by Human Rights Watch has shown that violence against women by intimate partners and the lack of secure property rights impede women’s access to HIV information and testing, and interfere with their ability to start or continue using available HIV treatment.
With the opening of the coordinated response center, women like Mercy (at least in Kabwe), will have a place to go to get the medical and psychological help and legal support they need. They will also be able to report the abuse to the Victim Support Unit of the Zambia police – all in one place. This is good news indeed. However, the government needs to do much more.
The government and its partners established the first coordinated response center in Lusaka in 2006. Led by Care Zambia, the center is not based in a hospital like the new center in Kabwe, but works closely with the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. This year, Care Zambia formed a partnership with the government and a number of nongovernmental organizations to establish similar coordinated response centers in health facilities in six districts (including Kabwe), with funding from the United States government’s Women, Justice and Empowerment Initiative and from the European Union. Care Zambia is now negotiating a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health on how these centers will operate and is working to renovate and equip the centers.
Zambia’s government has also made some other progress in addressing sexual and gender-based violence. It established the Victim Support Unit, a special unit of the police charged with addressing a variety of abuses, including domestic violence. Unfortunately the lack of human and other resources undermines this unit’s ability to tackle gender-based abuses. But Zambia does not have a comprehensive law on sexual violence or a provision for marital rape or psychological abuse in its penal code.
The Ministry of Justice and the Zambia Law Development Commission have been working on a draft bill addressing sexual and gender-based violence, in consultation with nongovernmental organizations, but the process has taken almost two years so far. Although government officials have said the bill will be debated in Parliament in January 2009, it is unclear whether this will happen. Moreover, the most recent draft of the bill still does not criminalize marital rape.
The Zambian government should back up the important progress it has made on providing support services to victims by adopting this long-overdue legislation, the Sexual Offences and Gender Violence Bill, and should ensure that it does include provisions that criminalize marital rape. And then the government should enforce the legislation effectively across Zambia. While we wait, many Zambian women will continue to suffer from brutal abuse, and HIV will continue to wreck the lives of many Zambians.
24 March 2009 – Behind The Mask
Kunda Warns Homosexuals
by Mask Admin
Source: Enerst Chanda (Sunday Post)
Zambia – Vice president George Kunda on Friday charged in parliament that the government was aware of some people who had married to hide their homosexual activities. Answering a question from Chadiza MMD member of parliament Allan Mbewe during the vice president’s question and answer session, on what government was doing to curb homosexuality in the country, vice-president Kunda said the laws available were stiff enough to punish such people. When vice president Kunda stood up to answer the question, many members of parliament burst into laughter especially those from the executive’s side.
Vice president Kunda responded with a constant smile as more laughter and running comments resonated in the house. “Zambia is a Christian nation and it shall continue to be so because it is part of our constitution. And acts such as homosexuality are not part of the Christian norm. In 2005, this house passed stiff laws against homosexuality. For people having carnal knowledge of each other against the order of nature the punishment is a minimum of 15 years imprisonment. If you have carnal knowledge of an animal you serve a minimum of 25 years”.
Vice president Kunda said, as a good number of parliamentarians said “yes, yes “ “ I know there are some prominent people in our society who are practicing homosexuality, some of them are engineers, some are lawyers and some are journalists.” At this point there were shouts of “shame” and more laughter among many parliamentarians, including the vice president himself.
“If you have information about such people, report them to the law enforcement agencies. There are also some people who are bisexual and they marry to cover up their activities, but at the end of the day we know them,” said vice president Kunda as the laughter increased in the house.
December 2009 – Zambian Watchdog
PPAZ wants guidelines on AIDS and homosexuals
The Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) has called on government to come up with guidelines on how stakeholders in the country could tackle the problem of HIV and AIDS among groups of the same sex who engage in sexual activities. PPZ Director of Programmes and Partnerships, Edford Mutuma, says the recent revelations by the National Aids Council during a presentation in November this year that there is an increase of HIV and AIDS among men who have sex with other men in places such as prisons should be taken seriously.
Mr Mutuma said there is need to ensure access to reproductive health services is a right for everyone without discrimination. He said government and other stakeholders should ensure that modalities are drawn on how to handle groups such as homosexuals and lesbians who exist in Zambia but are living in fear to come out in the open. Mr. Mutuma stated that as PPAZ it will continue respecting human rights and ensure that those who seek its services are not denied. He said the recent findings in the Zambia Demographic Health Survey of 2007 should be dealt with comprehensively.
Mr Mutuma said the PPAZ has repositioned itself to meet the current needs of young people in the Zambia. He said the organisation will now focus on offering comprehensive HIV and AIDS response programmes which would address issues of access and availability of contraceptives, male circumcision, youths and women. Mr Mutuma also called on young people to take messages of HIV and AIDS seriously and be able to remain focused.
Meanwhile Saint Ambrose has embarked on programme to promote positive behaviour change among young people using football and other sports activities. The NGO organized 32 youth groups to participate in a tournament dubbed “Never Give Up” Championship at Matanda Ground. The competition saw the participation of girls under 12 and 18 years take part and boys under 10,15 and 20 years.
Project Coordinator, Serena Matteo, said the initiative is aimed at promoting behaviour change among youths so that they stay focused on their future. Ms Matteo said the NGO will continue supporting such ventures when resources are available.
March 8, 2010 – Behind The Mask
Zambia’s New Constitution Forbids Same Sex Marriages
by Simangele Mzizi (BTM Intern)
Zambia – 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.
30 April 2010 – BBC News
How to stop HIV spreading in Zambia’s prisons
By Jo Fidgen – BBC News, Lusaka
Bright spent two years in Zambia’s Lusaka Central Prison for selling cannabis but fears he now faces a life sentence. "I did it because of hunger," says Bright softly. "There’s not much food in prison. Sex has become the way of payment." "Conditions were bad," he remembers. "We had nshima [maize meal] and beans two times a day. I never felt full."
One day, the cell "captain" gave Bright extra food, then asked him for sex. "I had never had sex with a man, but I did it. The first time it was painful, but I joined a group of maybe 20 men who did that. Mainly they were people who were condemned, or who had been jailed for 25 years. They hadn’t seen women for a long time."
Biggest risk factor
He fidgets as he talks, swallowing his words. His nervousness is understandable – it is illegal in Zambia for men to have sex with each other, and socially unacceptable. A survey of prisoners in 1998 suggested that 27% were HIV-positive – eight points higher than the national rate at the time. The organisation which carried out the research, In But Free, is updating its figures but is anticipating a similar discrepancy. Many men will already be carrying the virus when they are imprisoned, but once inside it can be spread by tattooing and sharing razors. The biggest risk factor, though, is sex.
"When we gathered the prisoners in focus group discussions and asked how many had taken part in male-to-male sex, the answer was ‘all of us’," says Dr Simooya, who heads In But Free.
"Most said it was because of boredom. But some mentioned that it was a form of exchange. You could give sex in return for soap, food, salt and so on. You can’t legislate against sex," the doctor says. "It’s better to be practical and ask how we can prevent the transmission of HIV. We must consider putting condoms in prison."
It is a view shared by the medical director of the Zambia Prisons Service, Dr Chisela Chileshe. He refers to the ABC approach to HIV-prevention – abstain, be faithful, use a condom. "Abstinence is the best, but I don’t know how long you can be faithful if you spend 10 years in prison. Inmates are dying, and we need the well-established and recognised methods of prevention."
He has been lobbying politicians to allow condoms into prison but says moral concerns are getting in the way. "We are talking about public health here. People must understand that health in prison is health in the community. The wall prevents an inmate from going outside, but the disease has no boundary."
For Elizabeth Mataka, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy on Aids in Africa, the solution is straightforward: do away with the law against homosexuality. "By stopping condoms getting into prison, we are actually allowing transmission of HIV to go on unabated and losing control of the epidemic." But the political will is lacking.
National Aids Council (NAC) documents clearly state that "legislation to decriminalise homosexuality is urgently needed" so that condoms can be distributed to prisoners. But when pressed, NAC admitted that the statement does not reflect government policy. "Amending the law might take two or three years," worries Godfrey Malembeka, a former prisoner who is now a human rights activist. It’s not only the Zambian government that needs to change. It’s the whole of Zambia. We all believe in just one kind of sex – you must marry and beget children. These others types, we look at them as foreign, imported into our country. So we have the chiefs refusing this, we have the headmen refusing this, the church, the political leaders. But people are dying. We need to find a short cut." One African country that has found a short cut is Lesotho.
Homosexuality is illegal there too. The prison authorities can’t distribute condoms, but they can make them available. So they simply leave boxes of condoms in strategic places and refill them when they are empty.
Does it work?
"The success story is that the condom box is usually empty," says Sharon Lesa Nyambe, who heads the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Zambia. "Now they’re trying to see how that translates into reduction in seroprevalence [the number of people with HIV]." She is hoping a similar scheme could be applied here. But a big question remains. Even if condoms were made available to prisoners, would they use them?
"Surprisingly, most prisoners we’ve surveyed have said no," says Dr Simooya. "They think male-to-male sex is un-Christian, un-Zambian, and will promote homosexuality." Bright has other reasons for thinking condoms might not be favoured by some of the prisoners, especially those serving long terms.
"One man told me he was HIV-positive and threatened to kill me if I didn’t have sex with him. Those people don’t want to use condoms. If your sentence is short, they want you to be positive like them and go and spread the disease outside." Bright was tested for HIV when he left prison but never followed it up. "I’m scared," he admits, catching his breath. "When I came out of prison I was sick with malaria, headaches, diarrhoea. I was very scared that maybe they would find me with HIV, that’s why I didn’t go back."
May 5, 2010 – Zambia LGBT
Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia Attacks Gay Community
Friends of RAINKA is saddened by the recent comments from the Evangelical fellowship of Zambia’s Executive Director Bishop Paul Mususu who has called for the retention of the Christian Nation clause in the Zambian Constitution. He said; “It is not proper for us to get rid of what we have cherished over the years. We shall be sinking so low if we allow things like homosexuality and pornography in the name of freedom of expression.’
The clergyman was responding to calls from political parties and the donor community to exclude the Christian Nation clause from the current constitution as it violates the right to freedom of expression and instead adopt a constitution that recognises and upholds the rights of all. Bishop Mususu’s comments are not surprising considering the herd mentality of African leaders and come a few days after the comments made by Malawian President and current African Union (AU) Chair Bingu wa Mutharika at the Episcopal ordination of Monsignor Stima of the diocese of Blantyre where he termed same sex relations as ‘un African and disgusting.’
Mususu was reacting to reports of donors who have funded political parties to support what he is calling the creation of ‘a secular state’. He said; ‘ It would be wrong for political parties and NGOs to promote values alien to the Zambian society for the sake of money.’ He called for the retention of the Christian Nation clause as a non legal requirement. It makes sad reading when African leaders ignore the blatant challenges that the continent continues to grapple with but instead opt to look at the world through their myopic eyes. The gay movement has suffered yet another set back in Africa.
The Evangelical fellowship of Zambia is a beneficiary of the benefits currently enjoyed by ‘Christian’ religious groups and are only interested in the spoils that their positions give them through excessive government incentives that they continue to enjoy as ‘Christian Leaders’ under the current constitution and they will fight to retain their excesses. The current Zambian constitution criminalises same sex relations according to cap 87 section 155 and 156 of the Zambian penal Code, under the ‘unnatural offences ACT.’ These offences include sodomy and other sexual acts, which are considered “unnatural
Zambia is a signatory to the African Human and People’s rights charter (AHPRC) whose main objective is to acknowledge and respect individual rights “without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status’” If Bishop Paul Mususu and his fellowship were genuine, they would have focussed their energies on uniting the nation as opposed to making divisive comments that will gain them favour in the eyes of an oppressive the government.
Earlier this week, continued violence characterised a by election in Mufumbwe, North Western Province of Zambia but little has been heard from the fellowship who have kept mum on the issue but continue to politicise the homosexuality issue. We suppose that, in a ‘Christian’ Zambia characterised by intolerance, blame, corruption, greed and hatred, very little can be done by progressive politicians and organisations that choose to uphold the rights of all, after all, Christianity in this context is not about love, brotherhood but about hatred. Hatred and intolerance have no place in Africa. They have no place in a progressive world.
Bishop Paul Mususu is not acting alone; he is merely echoing the sentiments that continue to reverberate across the continent. He is calling for blood. He and his peers are a desperate generation of bigots that have watched and condoned an era of poverty ignorance and disease and have failed to call it for what it is. Friends of RAINKA remind Bishop Mususu of the biblical verse Mathew 25: vs 45" Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brothers, you do unto me’ Mususu and Zambian religious leaders are reminded that the first duty of a Christian is to bring the peace of Christ in any situation.
They should cease to use the gay community as a scape goat for their inadequacies and failures.Religious and political issues have their own space and they should be debated in a fair manner without including angry invectives or personal opinions. The Zambian gay community will not be used by fledgling religious organisations’ for publicity or monetary gain.
May 21, 2010 – Human Rights Watch
Intolerance Threatens Health, Rights – Government Leaders Should Condemn Homophobic Statements
by Joseph Amon, Health and Human Rights director at Human Rights Watch
(New York) – Recent homophobic statements by religious leaders and government authorities risk undermining Zambia’s fight against HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Zambian leaders on May 17, 2010. Human Rights Watch called on government authorities to condemn statements that could discourage men who have sex with men from seeking health care and erode their fundamental human rights, and to reaffirm the importance of HIV testing and treatment for these men. The letter also called on the Zambian Parliament to amend the Penal Code to decriminalize consensual sexual conduct among adults.
"Zambia has a strong track record on addressing HIV/AIDS," said Joseph Amon, Health and Human Rights director at Human Rights Watch. "However, promoting intolerance and creating a climate of fear will only sabotage efforts to ensure access to HIV prevention and treatment by driving men underground."
Zambian religious leaders and government authorities have in recent weeks made a series of statements in the media condemning homosexuality. For example, while the National AIDS Council acknowledged in 2009 the "urgent need" to include men who have sex with men in national AIDS strategies, its chairman, Bishop J.H.K. Banda, recently criticized donor countries for speaking out on behalf of the Zambian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population. Banda characterized the donor countries’ efforts as being "against the traditional values of the country."
The statements from Zambian authorities and religious leaders come on the heels of homophobic statements and violence in neighboring countries. In March, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe condemned efforts to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in the new Constitution, saying that people engaging in homosexual behavior are "destroying nationhood." He has previously referred to homosexuals as "worse than dogs and pigs."
1 June 2010 – LGBT Asylum News
Zambia: LGBT hit back against state, church
by Paul Canning
Zambian LGBT have hit back against attacks by churches, seemingly encouraged by Zambia’s ruling party, amidst fears of an impeding ‘crackdown’ following government actions in Uganda, Malawi and Zimbabwe. LGBTI rights group Friends of RAINKA say that the Evangelical fellowship of Zambia should “cease using the gay community as a scapegoat for their inadequacies and failures. The Zambian gay community will not be used by fledgling religious organisations for publicity or monetary gain.” According to Rainka Zambian clergy have publicly reacted to comments by Marie Andersson de Frutos, Swedish envoy to Zambia, who encouraged the government to come up with a constitution that respects universal human rights including sexual orientation.
Media reports this week have highlighted continued negative reactions to Ambassador de Frutos’ progressive advice as church leaders feel that the International community is perpetuating homosexuality. Church organisations and non-governmental organisations have also condemned reports that the number of gay people in Zambia is growing and that some donor nations were prepared to fund their programmes. These allegations are as a result of continued and increased advocacy from the gay community over the past year.
The views of Anglican Council presiding Bishop Robert Mumbi were published on President Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s website. According to the Zambian State House website:
Anglican Council presiding Bishop Robert Mumbi says homosexuality is against African traditional way of life and Christian values. Bishop Mumbi said it was the Christian and traditional values that defined Zambia and set it apart from other countries and a lot of work needed to be done in the wake of strong gay rights campaigns and unchristian activities.
He said urbanisation was increasingly challenging the traditional and Christian values of the country and that not many people were standing up to speak against ungodly practices.
“The world is not static and the more urbanised we become, the more secular we shall be,” Bishop Mumbi said. He said there should also be political awareness, especially to do with certain human rights charters that the Government endorsed, saying some of them actually perpetuated some people championing homosexual activities. The Church would not compromise on Christian values and it would challenge wrongdoing regardless of whether people were championing human rights or not.
According to Friends of RAINKA, Bishop Mususu’s comments are not surprising considering the “herd mentality” of African leaders.
The gay rights group further stated:
“Bishop Paul Mususu is not acting alone and he is merely echoing the sentiments that continue to reverberate across the continent, he is calling for blood. He and his peers are a desperate generation of bigots that have watched and condoned an era of poverty ignorance and disease and have failed to call it for what it is.”
The Times of Zambia reported on how Zambia’s ruling political party champions a complete lack of separation between religion and civil society on the issue of LGBTI human rights. MMD acting spokesperson Mike Mulongoti said the ruling party could not embrace or support the gay rights because the party was founded on Christian norms. “Zambia is declared a Christian nation and anything that is unChristian and alien to our society is deemed to be an abomination,” Mr Mulongoti said. Mr Mulongoti, who is Works and Supply minister said the MMD strongly condemned people championing gay rights. He said supporting anything that was unChristian was outrageous and the MMD would not want to associate itself with such activities. Mr Mulongoti said there was no political leader from the ruling party who had associated themselves with championing homosexuality.
Vice President Kunda has said that "‘homosexuals have joined the crusade of fighting the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation’" and that "sadism, Satanism, and hatred behaviour" could ensue. Despite this the Government of Zambia, in its National AIDS Strategic Framework, has acknowledged the need to reconsider criminalization of same-sex sexual activity so that MSM populations can be adequately targeted as a part of the response to HIV/AIDS, stating that: "[t]he legal impediment to effective HIV and AIDS interventions and programming for MSM…should be revisited so that people in this group are readily identifiable and supported with appropriate HIV and AIDS interventions."
Human Rights Watch has written to President Banda saying that they are concerned about the "risk posed to the continuing success of Zambia’s HIV prevention, testing and treatment campaigns by recent statements first by religious leaders and then government authorities condemning homosexuality." "Homophobic statements by prominent leaders are already creating a climate of fear among men who have sex with men and threaten to drive this population underground, as activists fear a government crackdown on individuals suspected of being homosexual in Zambia," they say. In March the National Constitutional Conference during the Constitution Review Process decided to adopt a clause that prohibits marriage between people of the same sex.
January 2011 – IGLHRC
Revised Zambian constitution dealts gays severe blow
Recent efforts to revise the Zambian constitution have dealt the LGBT community a severe blow. With same-sex acts already illegal and punishable in Zambia with up to 14 years in prison, the draft constitution included a clause forbidding same-sex marriage. The Zambian LGBT group, Friends of Rainka, condemned this move as an unnecessary attack on their already vulnerable community. In November 2010, IGLHRC facilitated a training in Zambia to increase activists’ understanding of the constitution-making process and to strengthen their capacity to address the constitutional threat.
March 21, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Ambia: More Condemn Sata On Gay Rights
The church has vowed to campaign against Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata for advocating gay rights. And Chief Government spokesperson Lieutenant-General Ronnie Shikapwasha said what Mr Sata is advocating is an abomination and the church must rise against such leaders. “Churches that believe in Jesus Christ should condemn Mr Sata’s statement because the bible condemns it as an abomination,” he said. But the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says there are no legal provisions in the Zambian laws which provide for gay rights. Commenting on reports that Mr Sata supports gay rights, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director PukutaMwanza said the church will campaign against political parties and their leaders engaged in advocating unChristian activities such as homosexuality and abortion.
“We are disappointed with news that the PF is supporting same sex marriages. This is alien to Zambia’s traditional values. This is a Christian nation, so it is unthinkable that any leader can promote such things,” he said.
Rev Mwanza said the fact that homosexuality is being promoted and practised elsewhere does not mean it should be permitted in Zambia. He said the church will ensure that gay rights are not enshrined in the republican Constitution. And Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) overseer Bishop Peter Ndhlovu also said his church will go flat out to campaign against the PF and any other political party promoting gay rights. Efforts to get a comment from Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) and Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) failed.
ZEC spokesperson Paul Samasumo referred the matter to the general secretary CleophasLungu who threw it back to Father Samasumo. And CCZ secretary general Suzanne Matale said the church is not ready to respond. “We will respond when there is something to respond to,” she said. Meanwhile, some civil society organisations have released copies of CDs containing a clip of a recorded interview of Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata with some Danish officials in which he supported homosexuality. Committee of Citizens executive director Gregory Chifire has challenged church mother bodies, and particularly the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), to state their positions on revelations that Mr Sata has promised to enhance gay rights in Zambia.
March 28, 2011 – African Activist
Open Letter to Law Association of Zambia About Decriminalising Homosexuality
Law Association of Zambia
Maurice Makalu published an open letter to the Law Association of Zambia asking them to educate the nation about prejudicial and discriminatory laws against homosexuality and about the need to repeal these laws. One of the stated missions of the Law Association of Zambia is "to seek the advancement of the rule of law and the rights and liberties of the individual."
I write to condemn the outrageous hatred, prejudice and discrimination that have been displayed in the media from a cross section of the Zambian society against homosexuals. I am seeking your quick and prompt intervention as an authority on legal matters to make the nation realize that the provisions against homosexuality in our laws are prejudicial and discriminatory; that they infringe on the human rights of gay people and must therefore be repealed with immediate effect…
To describe homosexuality as being ‘against the order of nature’ is prejudicial. Homosexuality is a feeling not a genital; and like all feelings (love, anger, lust, sexual attraction), it is not against the order of nature, at least according to the person feeling it. Homosexuals feel sexual attraction for people of the same sex as ‘naturally’ as straight people feel sexual attraction for the opposite sex. This ‘naturalness’ can be seen in the way they dress, walk, look and talk; something visible even to an untrained eye. When we say feeling this way is unnatural, we are using ourselves as the standard of measure for what ‘natural’ is. We are describing others as unnatural, and thus inhuman, simply because they are different from us. This is prejudice and it is illegal under natural justice…
Article 23 of the Zambian Constitution protects people against discrimination. In clause (3), it defines “discriminatory” as “affording different treatment to different persons attributable, wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, tribe, sex, place of origin, marital status, political opinions color or creed whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.”…I submit that the spirit of this provision is to stop any form of discrimination based on one’s nature, or rather what one would describe as ‘how I am.’
This letter comes after a frenzy of articles vilifying Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata after he allegedly told the Danish media that homosexuality is recognised in Zambian law (an allegation he denies). Zambia’s ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) is using homosexuality as a wedge issue in the elections.
Here is a small sample of the articles published in recent weeks:
Zambia: More condemn Sata on gay rights, Lusaka Times
More Deplore Sata’s Support for Gays, Times of Zambia
Zambia: William Banda accuses Sata of being a foreigner, Lusaka Times
Homosexuality is sin, says Catholic Church, Zambia Daily Mail
Sata is mad, says George Kunda, The Post Online
Hikaumba scolds Sata for supporting gays, Times of Zambia
Hand over leadership, Sata told, Zambia Daily Mail
Sata Stance On Gays Split Pact – HH, Times of Zambia
Church blasts Sata over gays, Zambia Daily Mail
Catholics deplore homosexuality, Zambia Online
‘Sata’ gays stance warning sign’, Zambia Daily Mail
Even the Danish Embassy in Lusaka is tracking articles.
In May of 2010, the anti-gay views of Anglican Council presiding Bishop Robert Mumbi were published on President Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s State House website. Since that time, Botswana’s former president Festus Mogae has been working with President Banda’s government to understand how criminalising homosexuality contributes to the spread of HIV infection.
Zambia is drafting a new constitution and the current draft discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Last October the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) conducted a seminar in Zambia to help LGBTI persons develop a strategy to address the potential impacts of the discriminatory clauses in the draft Zambian constitution.
12 April 2011 – IRIN
Zambia: The economics of sex work
Mpulungu (IRIN) – Given the choice, people preferred to pay for subsidized condoms in attractive packaging because it gave them greater social status, rather than using free condoms, an official in the northern Zambian town of Mpulungu told IRIN. A high volume of traffic and a low cost of living has made Mpulungu, on Lake Tanganyika, Zambia’s only port, an attractive destination for sex workers. Every two weeks, a ferry travels the length of the lake to Burundi and returns via Tanzania to Zambia, bringing traders, backpackers, overlanders and migrants, while the fishing industry draws businessmen and truckers from across the country and neighbouring states. Its broken streets are lined with bars that never seem to close.
Solomon Kaluba, an AIDS advisor and coordinator at the government’s National Aids Council in Mpulungu, told IRIN the HIV infection rate in the district was officially about 10.8 percent – slightly higher than the prevalence rate of 8 percent in Northern Province, where the town is situated – but still below the national infection rate of 14 percent. However, unofficial estimates put prevalence in Mpulungu much higher.
Being a transit hub, Kaluba said, probably contributed to the level of HIV infection in the ramshackle northern town because many sex workers migrated there, especially from the copper and coal mining towns of Copperbelt Province after the global slowdown and the fall of commodity prices in 2008 impacted negatively on the country’s resource-based economy.
Free condoms are distributed at health clinics, guest houses and bars, but the subsidized condoms in attractive packaging, against the bland presentation of free condoms, are much more popular, even though they cost about 500 kwacha ($0.10) each. Kaluba said the socially marketed condoms were preferred, as "sex is prestigious," and the packaging and presentation added to the currency of such condoms. "The clients I have are from outside [Mpulungu]. People talk too much and it’s a small town [of about 25,000], so I don’t really go with local men," Miriam, 23, a sex worker from the capital, Lusaka, told IRIN.
"People look down on us. It is not our wish to do this, but I don’t feel bad. We do what we do and even married women go out and sleep with other men [for extra income]. We are proud, and we need to make money to live," she said. Unlike her two friends Christabelle, 27, and Charity 28, also sex workers, Miriam completed school but drifted into sex work after two or three years of unemployment. All three have boyfriends who travel from Ndola, Kabwe and Lusaka about once a month to spend a few days in Mpulungu. One is a truck driver and the other two are fish buyers.
"When they come here we’re good housewives, but when they are gone, we are not," Miriam said. All three said they all used condoms – as "we care about our lives" – including with their boyfriends. Most sex workers staked out their workplace. The women frequented a lakeside bar and if they ventured into other bars "we are chased out" by other sex workers, they told IRIN.
“[There] is money in Mpulungu and it’s cheap to live here, that is why we like it," said Charity, who left school when she was 16 years old. A two-room brick house, with electricity and a corrugated iron roof, can be rented for about 250,000 Zambian kwacha (US$53) a month, and Charity charges her clients between 200,000 kwacha (US$42) and 500,000 kwacha ($103). She averaged two or three clients a week and her boyfriend always brought her presents, such as furniture and electronic goods, when he visited. Christabelle, originally from Kasama, about 200km south of Mpulungu, never had any schooling. She said girls as young as 12 years old became sex workers, and they encouraged them to use condoms.
Chalwe Mwaba, a Mpulungu community development officer, told IRIN many children were tempted to abandon schooling at a young age to earn money, the boys by becoming fishermen and the girls by going into sex work.
May 25, 2011 – African Activist
Former Presidents of Botswana and Zambia Condemn Malawi’s Gay Rights Stance
Festus Mugae and Kenneth Kaunda, former Presidents of Botswana and Zambia, are on their HIV Free Generation tour in some African countries. At a news conference in Lilongwe they condemned Malawi’s criminalisation of homosexuality as harmful to LGBTI persons and the fight against HIV/AIDS. "We can preach about behavioral change, but as long as we confine gays and lesbians into dark corners because of our inflexibility to accomodate them, the battle on HIV and AIDS can never be won," said Mugae, who is the chairperson of the Champions of HIV Free Generation.
On his part, Kaunda urged all African leaders to start recognizing same sex marriage. Said Kaunda: "We are not only condemning African leaders who are criminalizing same sex marriage, but we are urging them to start recognising these people, for the sake of HIV and AIDS." Kaunda and Mugae’s condemnation comes amidst the heated debate between government and religious leaders on one hand and some civil society organizations on another hand on whether the country should embrace same sex marriages.
Malawi civil society organisations Centre for Development of People (CEDEP), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Malawi Religious Leaders Living and Affected by HIV and Aids (Manerela+) have recently challenged statements by religious and government leaders. In the BBC Debate in Johannesburg last March, Is Homosexuality Un-African?, former Botswana President Festus Mogae was clear that not only was homosexuality African but that LGBTI persons are worthy of human rights. Last February, Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika signed a bill into law that criminalised sex between women.
August 19th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Open Society Hosts Meeting Of LGBT Activists From Southern Africa
The Open Society Initiatives for Southern Africa (OSISA) has just concluded a three day meeting in Johannesburg for LGBT activists from 13 regional countries. During the meeting participants were asked to form three groups (Lesbians /Bisexual women/WSW, Gay/Bisexual/ MSM and Transgender /FTM/MTF/Non conforming) to identify the problems faced by each group regarding HIV/Aids. Most of the groups shared the same sentiments such as legal framework, laws and policies that hinder the LGBT community from accessing services. They also discussed access to justice, access to education, social empowerment, socio-cultural issues and hate crimes.
“It was open and fair enough to cover HIV related issues facing LGBT communities regionally and I strongly believe that all the ideas together will bring change in African countries” said TP Mothopeng from Lesotho’s Matrix Support Group. During the meeting activists also shared their experiences on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV/Aids, examined country specific context for LGBT and HIV issues, developed an advocacy agenda and strategy and then elected 10 people who will now represent the LGBT group at the next joint workshop which will take place in October where the three key groups will be represented.
Ian Swartz, OSISA programme coordinator for LGBTI special initiatives said in his opening remarks “The goal of the meeting is to build the capacity of the three key groups (LGBTI activists, women living with HIV, and sex workers) in 13 countries to develop a regional advocacy and lobbying strategy to address HIV and Aids.” For many years the HIV within LGBT sector has been led by gay men and it is only recently that the WSW were brought on board. As a result of these changes this meeting was totally different and the Trans community found they scored more nominations than the other identities to be on the working group.
In October 2010 UNIFEM [now UN Women] issued a call for proposals to work with three marginalized communities [namely sex workers, women living with HIV and LGBT communities] to develop regional advocacy strategies on HIV and Aids. The HIV and Aids programme, in partnership with the Women’s Rights programme and the Special Initiative on LGBT rights submitted a proposal and were awarded the contract.
4 November 2011 – PinkNews
Zambia and Zimbabwe appear to reject gay rights “pressure” on aid
by Stephen Gray
Zambian and Zimbabwean officials have said their countries will not enact gay rights laws in order for their governments to receive British aid. Government minister Given Lubinda said the Zambia would only enact laws supported by its citizens and in line with their culture. He said: “David Cameron must be reminded of what we agreed when we met in Paris for the Paris Declaration. When we met in Ghana, we came up with the Accra Agenda for Action and both those declarations are that no country will use its aid to influence the policies of an aid receiving country.” Speaking to Zambia’s Hot FM Radio, he continued: “It is wrong for Mr Cameron to try and use aid as a way of influencing policies and laws of Zambia. Zambia will not be pressured to formulate laws or policies by any foreign government.”
Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, one political party leader said chances for gay rights protection were “zero”, despite Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s assertion that gay rights are “human rights” last month. Welshman Ncube is the leader of MDC-M, who make up around 5 percent of Zimbabwe’s House of Assembly, but said the view was widely held. Ncube was meeting with church leaders in Bulawayo last week when he said the views of the people were clear and they did not support gay rights in the constitution, The Zimbabwean reports.
He said: “If you look at the constitution data today, the people said no to protecting gay rights and I think chances are zero” If we listen to the views of people who attended COPAC [constitutional select committee] meetings, it is clear that they said no to gay rights.” However, Mr Cameron’s announcement about how the status of gay rights could affect a country’s aid does not reflect a change of essential policy, as LGBT rights have historically fallen under the head of human rights and have always been expected to be recognised by aid-receiving countries.
Instead, the stricter implementation of the Department for International Development’s existing guidelines would see a reduction in General Budget Support, the aid that is sent directly to overseas governments, in favour of alternative funding mechanisms if those governments are not seen to recognise all human rights. A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government is at the forefront of work to promote human rights around the world, and regularly criticises Governments which violate those rights.
“This includes working to end religious intolerance, and persecution and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexuality. Our new approach, set out in detail in July this year, means we only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty; respect human rights; improve public financial management; fight corruption; and promote good governance and transparency.” The government intends to reduce the amount given in General Budget Support to foreign governments from 16% of bilateral foreign aid in 2009/10 to 9% in 2014/15. Ugandan and Ghanaian governments have already signalled that they will not legislate to protect gays.