United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says it is inconceivable that two men can be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for having a consensual relationship, which does not hurt anyone, while government officials can steal millions of public funds without consequences.
In a statement today, Ambassador Foote said he understood that Zambia was a Christian nation but there was need to uphold human rights and treat people according to the Biblical principle that only those without sin should throw stones at those perceived to be sinners.
“I understand that Zambia is a Christian nation. I also understand that the Republic’s constitution was written to protect all citizens. To paraphrase the Bible: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” I was personally horrified to read yesterday about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no one, to 15 YEARS imprisonment for “crimes against the order of nature.” Meanwhile, government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution, political cadres can beat innocent citizens for expressing their opinions with no consequences, or poachers/traffickers can kill numerous elephants, barbarically chainsaw and sell their tusks, and face a maximum of only five years imprisonment in Zambia,” stated Ambassador Foote.
“Decisions like this oppressive sentencing do untold damage to Zambia’s international reputation by demonstrating that human rights in Zambia is not a universal guarantee. They perpetuate persecution against disenfranchised groups and minorities, such as people from other tribes or political affiliations, albinos, the disabled, our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters, and anyone who is deemed “different.” Gay individuals have historically comprised over 10 percent of the world’s population, back to the days of renowned Greek philosophers, and reportedly gay men, Plato and Aristotle. Gay individuals continue to make exceptional contributions to society in the United States and elsewhere, as politicians, artists, ambassadors, business leaders, philanthropists, and friends. Perhaps, it’s time for Zambia to consider its outdated stance and obsolete legislation on how to treat the LGBTI community, and all others considered “different”.”