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A Zambian court gay sex sentence ‘horrified’ the U.S. ambassador in the County

LUSAKA, Zambia – The U.S. ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Daniel Foote, is said to be “horrified’ by a recent court decision against a gay couple in the country. 

Ambassador Foote has strongly condemned a 15-year jail sentence handed down to two men found guilty of “having sex against the order of nature” – the legal phrase the Zambian court used to describe gay sex.

According to court documents obtained by Globe Afrique, Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba were sentenced last Wednesday by a Zambian high court judge.

Zambia, an east African country, is a conservative republic where homosexual acts are illegal, and same-sex relationships are frowned upon and condemned.

In his reaction to the verdict, the top US diplomat accused the authorities of having double standards when it comes to pursuing other crimes, including corruption in the country.

“I was personally horrified to read about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no-one,” Ambassador Foote wrote in a statement.

“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.”

“This oppressive sentencing does untold damage to Zambia’s international reputation by demonstrating that human rights in Zambia is not a universal guarantee,” the Ambassador maintained.

Ambassador continue: “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 brothers and sisters, and anyone who is deemed ‘different’.”

The top U.S. diplomat said gay individuals continued to make exceptional contributions to society in the US and elsewhere as politicians, artists, ambassadors, business leaders, philanthropists, and friends.

“Perhaps, it is time for Zambia to consider its outdated stance and obsolete legislation on how to treat the LGBTI community, and all others considered ‘different,’” he concluded.

Several African countries remained opposed to the legalization of gay sex acts and homosexuality in general.  This opposition, many believe, is rooted in the continent’s strong religious ties both Islam and Christianity, as well as the traditions and cultures of the various ethnic groups on the continent.

Some global affairs analysts expect a huge international backlash against the Zambia that they believe could impact investment and the businesses in the country.

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Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere

Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere is a public affairs researcher and senior investigative correspondent.

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