A prominent gay rights activist has been arrested in Zambia after appearing on a live television calling for same-sex relations to be decriminalised.
Paul Kasonkomona had been charged with “inciting the public to take part in indecent activities”, police chief Solomon Jere told AFP news agency.
He was detained as he stepped out of the studios of privately owned Muvi TV in the capital, it reports.
Homosexual acts are illegal in deeply conservative Zambia.
Correspondents say many people believe that it is contrary to their religious beliefs.
Sources at the television station in Lusaka told AFP that police tried to stop the interview and take Mr Kasonkomona off air but the management refused.
South Africa-based campaign group Ndifuna Ukwazi demanded Mr Kasonkomona’s release, in an online petition addressed to Zambia’s President Michael Sata.
“We further urge your government to immediately start a process to decriminalise consensual sex between adults in private irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity,” the group said.
“This means repealing the laws introduced by the British colonial administration and codified in the Zambian penal code.”
All consensual adult same-sex acts are criminalised in Zambia, Ndifuna Ukwazi said.
Offences such as sodomy, or sex between women, carry a minimum sentence of 15 years or a maximum of life, it added.
“Indecent same-sex practices” – probably a reference to holding hands, kissing and masturbation between adults or alone – carries a minimum sentence of seven years or a maximum of 14 years, the group said.
Last week, a group of gay couples attempted to register their marriages but were stopped and the government ordered the arrest of anyone practising homosexuality, AFP reports.
The European Union last month offered financial support for organisations that wanted to promote the rights of gay people in Zambia, it said.
In 2011, both the UK and US warned they would use foreign aid to push for homosexuality to be decriminalised in Africa.
South Africa is one of the few African countries where it is legal.
Source – BBC