Zambian activists seek halt to gay manhunt

Published: April 8, 2013

The Zambian human rights group Friends of Rainka has called for an end to a police manhunt for activists and LGBTI people that began after four allegedly gay couples tried to register same-sex marriages in Lusaka during the Easter weekend.

On April 7, police arrested anti-AIDS and human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona after appearances on Muvi TV in which he made appeals for recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The motive for the anti-homosexuality campaign seems to be to distract the public from more important issues that the country faces, particularly the country’s constitution, the human rights group said.

It also questioned whether the same-sex marriage incident might actually be a “ploy employed by enemies of the community in a quest to distract the nation from discussing ongoing social, economic and political challenges.”  Attempts to contact the couples or to confirm their identities have been unsuccessful. “They remain unknown to anyone else in the community,” the  group stated.

In a press release, “Zambia – LGBTI Activists Under Attack,” Friends of Rainka said:

Police have launched a manhunt for LGBTI activists and have called on the general populace to report any suspected homosexuals to the police for further investigation. To this effect, the LGBTI community in Zambia is existing under extreme fear and pressure. … Suspected plainclothed police visited homes and offices of some LGBTI organisations in an attempt to destabilise their work.

LGBTI activists are safe for now, but remain in hiding for fear of persecution and have appealed to members of the LGBTI community to exercise extreme caution and care when dealing with any unknown people as we stand in solidarity with detained activist, Paul Kasonkomona

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