Paul Kasonkomona has been arrested in Zambia on charges that he incited “the public to take part in indecent activities,” according to Police Chief Solomon Jere. Kasonkomona is a prominent gay rights activist in that African nation. He was arrested after appearing on television, and was detained as he stepped out of the studios of the privately owned Muvi TV.
Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia, as it is in much of Africa. The illegality is based on purely religious beliefs.
Police had tried to shut down the interview with Kasonkomona, but the management at the station refused. The South Africa-based Ndifuna Ukwazi group has demanded that Kasonkomona be released. The group stated in a petition to President Michael Sata that “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. . .This means repealing the laws introduced by the British colonial administration and codified in the Zambian penal code.”
Despite claims that homosexuality has never been part of the various African cultures’ history, there are several African cultures that practiced some form of homosexual conduct between men. Sodomy in Zambia can land the people involved with between fifteen years to life in prison. Holding hands, kissing, and masturbation in Zambia is punishable with between seven and fourteen years in prison according to Ndifuna Ukwazi.
The European Union has offered financial support for those groups seeking to promote LGBT rights in Zambia, and the US and UK have warned that they could start cutting financial aid to African nations that do not decriminalize homosexuality.
South Africa is one of the very few African nations to have legalized homosexuality, and the only African nation with same-sex marriage. Several African nations lead by Uganda have been pushing to make their anti-gay laws even harsher than they already are.