Zambia: Stop Prosecuting People for Homosexuality

Published: May 20, 2013

(Nairobi) – Zambian authorities should dismiss all charges and release two men arrested for engaging in homosexual acts, Human Rights Watch said. The police should immediately cease forensic anal examinations, which are intrusive, invasive and constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in violation of international law.

On May 6, 2013, police in the Kapiri Mposhi district in central Zambia arrested James Mwansa and Phillip Mubiana in response to reports from neighbors that the two were engaging in homosexual acts. Both men were subjected to anal examinations without their consent by forensic doctors at the Kapiri Mposhi District Hospital, as part of the police investigation. On May 8, the district magistrate formally charged Mwansa and Mubiana, and denied their request for a postponement even though they had no legal representation.

“It’s bad enough that Zambia wants to prosecute these two men for homosexual acts, but to subject them to invasive examinations is just outrageous,” said Monica Tabengwa, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately drop the charges and free them, and stop bringing such cases.”

The arrest, detention, and prosecution of men suspected of homosexual acts is only one aspect of a looming human rights crisis for LGBT people in Zambia. Since April, politicians, religious, and community leaders have been carrying out vicious campaigns to vilify LGBT people, Human Rights Watch said.

Juliet Mphande, director of Lusaka-based LGBT organization Friends of Rainka, told Human Rights Watch that Mwansa and Mubiana, both 21, were coerced to confess to the allegations and have been deprived of adequate food and water in detention.

This is the second time the men have been arrested on similar charges, Human Rights Watch said. In April,the two men were arrested and detained for a week before being released on bail on a charge of engaging in “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” as set out in the Zambian Penal Code.

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