The Human Rights Commission says it has noted with regret the tendency by some stakeholders to deliberately confuse criminal acts with Human Rights issues when dealing with matters relating to the situation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community in Zambia.
Human Rights Commission Mudford Mwandenga said there is need for stakeholders and the public to make a distinction between supporting the human rights of the LGBTQI community and gender identity, which is a criminal offence in Zambia.
He said this in a press statement made available , today Mr. Mwandenga says the Commission has received correspondence from various stakeholders expressing fear about the safety of the LGBTQI community in Zambia
“Regrettably, the Commission has noted the tendency by some stakeholders to deliberately confuse purely criminal acts with human rights issues when dealing with matters relating to the situation of LGBTQI in Zambia,” he said.
“A distinction must be made between supporting the human rights of the LGBTQI community, which rights accrue to them by virtue of them being human and supporting them to freely and publicly exercise their sexual orientation and gender identity, which is a criminal offence in Zambia,” he said.
He said the reported cases of sodomy in the country are a criminal offence which should be thoroughly investigated and dealt with by the Zambia Police Service in accordance with the provisions of the law.
Mr. Mwandenga said law enforcement against sodomy should not be confused with clamping down on the LGBTQI community in Zambia.
He added that individuals that are suspected of having committed acts of sodomy should be treated like any other suspect and accorded equal protection of the law and not be subjected to unlawful actions and/or violation of their Human Rights.
Mr. Mwandenga further highlighted that the Commission has noted with concern the continued hate speech and threats of physical attacks against persons based on their perceived or real sexual orientation and gender identity is a criminal offence.
He said the Commission is alive to the fact that practicing homosexuality or lesbianism is illegal in Zambia and emphasized that those found on the wrong side of the law or in conflict with the law should be treated in a humane manner.
Mr. Mwandenga said by virtue of being party to various human rights instruments, Zambia is bound to protect the indivisible and inalienable rights of all citizens including those found on the wrong side of the law or who come in conflict with the law.
He said the Commission is calling on the State to put in place measures to stop the emerging hate campaign against the LGBTQI community in Zambia, stating that it is the obligation of the State to adopt effective measures of protection against actions of individuals.