A leading gay human rights and HIV/AIDS activist has been released on bail in Zambia ... after he was arrested for appearing on live television and calling for the decriminalization of same-sex relations, reports BBC.
Paul Kasonkomona pleaded not guilty at the magistrate's court in the capital, Lusaka, to the charges - being idle and disorderly in a public place. He was detained as he stepped out of the studios of the privately owned Muvi TV in the capital on Sunday evening. Sources at the television station told the AFP news agency that police tried to stop the interview and take Mr Kasonkomona off air but the management refused.
The [charge] said Mr Kasonkomona was in "a public place advocating homosexual rights to be respected in Zambia." ... The rights activist was ordered to pay 5,000 kwacha ($930, £605) and the trial is due to start on 15 May 2013.
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for both males and females in Zambia. The penalties carry a minimum sentence of 15 years up to a maximum of life in prison. The Zambian government does not permit advocacy of LGBT rights.
In a separate case, Kasonkomona's attorneys are suing for "unlawful detention" because he was held in police cells for more than 48 hours before being charged, reports Muvi TV. Kasonkomona is HIV positive and says police denied him access to "his tuberculosis and anti-retro viral drugs. He says [that] put his life at risk."
Kasonkomona's arrest and harassment comes at the same there has been "a frightening increase in violations of LGBT people’s rights" in Zambia, according to a new report by the human rights organization Friends of RAINKA says.
Police are intimidating, harassing and persecuting LGBT people in Zambia to an unprecedented degree, fueled by a call from traditional leaders to "cage gays" and an appeal from police to the public to "report homos." This occurs both at the hands of the police and by the general public, who are taking matters in their own hands. ... Victims of these violations are unable to report incidents to the police because of the warranted fear of unlawful detention and torture, as is evidenced in the Kasonkomona case.
Zambia is one of at least 38 of 54 African countries that prohibit same-sex relations. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
Zambia is rich in copper mineral wealth—but it is one of the world's poorest nations, boasts a 16 percent HIV rate and the average life expectancy is only 40 years old. Priorities, priorities.
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