Zambia judge closes courtroom in anti-gay case

Published: June 11, 2013

The judge in a case against two rural Zambian men accused of homosexual behavior ordered the public out of the courtroom yesterday (June 10), saying that he wanted to spare people from hearing vulgar language.

James Mwape, a bricklayer, and Philip Mubiana, a hairdresser, both age 21, are charged with two counts each of “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 14 years. They were arrested in rural Kapiri Mposhi on April 25, were released on May 2, and were re-arrested on May 4 after a hostile mob surrounded them, and have been detained since then. They

Testimony in their trial got under way June 10.

Before Magistrate John Mbuzi closed the trial to the public, two witnesses said the two men had been fighting, which led to their arrest.

Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Sunday Nkonde, witness Judith Wakumelo was asked whether the two were found having sex. Wakumelo replied that no one found the two having sex, the Lukasa Times reported.

Witnesses also testified about remarks the men made about their relationship and their gender identity.

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