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10 human rights lawyers back Chief Justice over gay rights in Zambia

About 10 human rights lawyers have backed Chief Justice Mumba Malila’s call to respect the right of Homosexuals in Zambia.

The lawyers say homosexuals are entitled to all rights provided in the Constitution which include freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, privacy, equality and dignity.

The lawyers are of the view that fundamental freedoms should be enjoyed by all people, grounded on the principle of equality and non-discrimination, and elevated above the capricious whims of the majority.

They said gay people do not enjoy the rights as a gift from the majority but rather by virtue of being human.

“We, the undersigned human rights lawyers, write to express our solidarity with Chief Justice Mumba Malila who has come under extensive attack following his remarks about the need to respect the human rights of gay people in Zambia. On 22nd September 2023, Justice Malila delivered a public lecture at the University of Zambia as part of the events to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Supreme Court. During the lecture, he was asked a specific question about his view on the rights of gay people considering the national debate on the same. It was in this context that he shared his view that it is absolutely wrong to discriminate against gay persons and that they should not be afforded less rights as they do not lose their humanity by virtue of their sexuality.

Following this statement, News Diggers published a front-page story “Respect Gay Rights-Chief Justice” and an editorial “Chief Justice Malila’s defence of gay rights is confusing”, in which they criticize the Chief Justice. This has been followed by several statements on social media calling for the Chief Justice to vacate his office for expressing such a view,” they stated.

The lawyers further said the Chief Justice simply stated the current position of constitutional rights in Zambia, echoing the basis on which rights are celebrated and enjoyed everywhere in the world.

Among the lawyers who have backed the Chief Justice include Dr O’Brien Kaaba, Linda Kasonde,Professor Muna Ndulo, Josiah Kalala, Professor Evance Kalula, Dr Chanda Chungu and Gracious Miti.

Others are James Kayula, Chipo Mushota Nkhata, Dr Misozi Lwatula, Bright Kaluba, Daniel Libati, Susan Clayton, Landilani Banda, Alfred Mumba, Kangwa Chishimba, Kafula Kasonde and Chilambe Mpanga.