Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

17 September 2013

Zambia postpones same-sex conduct trial

Zambia postpones same-sex conduct trial
Two Zambian men, James Mwape (L) and Philip Mubiana (R) are facing charges of having sex “against the order of nature”

Two Zambian men, James Mwape (L) and Philip Mubiana (R) are facing charges of having sex “against the order of nature”

© Private


At a Glance

  • In the last decade sub-Saharan Africa has seen a surge in discrimination and violence towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals.
  • Homosexuality is against the law in 38 African countries.
These men should not be facing the courts in the first place. Postponing the trial condemns these men to even more time in prison simply because of outrageous charges against them based on their perceived sexual orientation.
Source: 
Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

The postponement of the trial against two Zambian men charged with same-sex sexual conduct whilst they continue to languish in prison is compounding their suffering, Amnesty International said.

“These men should not be facing the courts in the first place. Postponing the trial condemns these men to even more time in prison simply because of outrageous charges against them based on their perceived sexual orientation,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

The trial, which was due to start yesterday, was deferred as the presiding magistrate, Mr John Mbudzi, had to attend an urgent family matter. No new date has been confirmed yet.

Philip Mubiana, a hair dresser and James Mwape, a brick layer, were charged with committing acts “against the order of nature”. They have been in custody for more than four months after being denied bail. If convicted they face a minimum of 15 years in jail.

Laws prohibiting consensual, private, same-sex sexual activity criminalise the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, conscience, expression and privacy. These are protected in numerous treaties ratified by Zambia including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

“This is a real test for the authorities to demonstrate their commitment to the principle of non-discrimination which underlines the enjoyment of all human rights. Zambia’s human rights record is on trial.”

In a separate case, human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona faces charges of “idle and disorderly conduct” after giving a television interview in April urging Zambia to recognize the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals.

“Zambian authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop the unfair charges against Mubiana, Mwape and Kasonkomona as they are nothing short of a gross violation of their most basic human rights,” said Simeon Mawanza.

Amnesty International adopted Mubiana and Mwape as prisoners of conscience, arrested solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation.

Issue

Discrimination 
Freedom Of Expression 
Prisoners Of Conscience 
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 

Country

Zambia 

Region

Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

11 July 2014

Refugees in Nairobi are appealing against a controversial ruling that would force thousands of Somalis from their homes to live in squalid overcrowded camps in north Kenya.

Read more »
19 June 2014

Chile’s commitment to decriminalize abortion in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape, the woman’s life is in danger and when the foetus is not viable is a positive... Read more »

10 July 2014

The sentencing of five media workers in Myanmar each to 10 years’ imprisonment with hard labour for “disclosing state secrets” makes today a dark day for freedom of expression... Read more »

11 July 2014

Amnesty International has gathered graphic and compelling evidence of savage beatings and other torture meted out against activists, protesters and journalists in eastern... Read more »

14 July 2014

A new briefing sheds light on a growing pattern of sectarian killings and abductions by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham since the group seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-... Read more »