Tom Daley
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Zambia's President Pardons Couple Imprisoned for Gay Sex

Edgar Lungu

Zambian President Edgar Lungu has pardoned a gay couple, Japhet Chataba, 39, and Steven Sambo, 31, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison under a colonial-era antisodomy law.

Lungu pardoned the men May 22 in recognition of All Africa Freedom Day, Reuters reports. Nearly 3,000 people, imprisoned for a variety of charges, received pardons that day.

The case of Chataba and Sambo led to a quarrel between Zambia and the U.S. that resulted in the U.S. recalling its ambassador to the nation, Daniel Foote. Foote had strongly criticized the sentence, which Zambians defended on the basis that theirs is a Christian country.

“I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that Christianity meant trying to live like our Lord, Jesus Christ,” Foote said early in December, shortly after the men were sentenced. “I am not qualified to sermonize, but I cannot imagine Jesus would have used bestiality comparisons or referred to his fellow human beings as ‘dogs,’ or ‘worse than animals;’ allusions made repeatedly by your countrymen and women about homosexuals. Targeting and marginalizing minorities, especially homosexuals, has been a warning signal of future atrocities by governments in many countries. In my heart, I know that real Zambian values don’t merit your country’s inclusion on that list, ever.”

Foote was relieved of his position as ambassador later that month. Embassy sources said that because Lungu wouldn’t work with him, there was no point in him remaining in the country. He had been a diplomat since 1998. He has not been replaced, although a deputy ambassador, David Young, has been appointed.

Tags: World, Africa

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