By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com June 09 2014 6:45 PM ET
Zambia's foreign affairs minister, Gabriel Namulambe, says homosexuality is an affront to Zambia as a Christian Nation and that foreign dignitaries who came to his country should respect that government's views.
Namulambe made his remarks after a recent meeting with a U.S. State Department representative at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I want to make it very clear here that as Government, we have the Constitution to protect and in the preamble of our Constitution, Zambia is a Christian nation and as such we live by the Christian values and we will not be able to recognize gay rights,” Namulambe told reporters. according to AllAfrica.com. “This is because it is untraditional to our culture, and we have appealed to our colleagues to respect our stance that as Zambians, we shall remain a Christian nation.”
Zambia has a record of hostility to LGBT people. Amnesty International has called on Zambia to stop antigay persecution, noting the harsh treatment of those perceived to be gay. It cites the case of two men, James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, who were arrested and charged with homosexuality last year. Onlookers mocked the men as they were being handled by authorities, shouting antigay slurs and demanding that they reveal their faces as they entered and exited the courtroom.
At the time, Amnesty International said that the men have low literacy levels and a poor understanding of their rights under Zambian law. Authorities allegedly performed anal examinations on both men without their consent and may have forced them to confess to speed up their trial.
One of the nation's top LGBT activists, Paul Kasonkomona, was charged last year with offending public morality because of comments he made on television, saying that gay rights needed to be addressed in order to stop the spread of HIV, Al Jazeera reports. However, in a rare instance of good news in Zambia, he was acquitted in February.