Zambian men get 15 years for being caught together in hotel room

Judges gavel and law books stacked behind
All eyes were on Zambia after two men, who were arrested for having sex in the privacy of a hotel room, were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Last year, the Kapiri Mposhi Magistrates’ Court found Japhet Chabata and Steven Samba guilty of having sex “against the order of nature”, under British colonial-era anti-LGBTIQ legislation. The men were arrested in October 2017 after an employee of the hotel saw them having sex through the window and
called the police.

After their appeal was rejected by the Lusaka High Court, Judge Charles Zulu affirmed their 15-year prison sentence.

“The trial court cannot be faulted and there is no basis to review or substitute the conviction and I further find that there were no irregularities by the trial court,” said Judge Zulu.

It’s been reported that they were forced to undergo anal examinations 10 days after they were accused of having sex. This practice has been internationally recognised as form of torture, with the doctors concluding that the exams “were inconsistent with the allegations, [but the doctor added that the exam]
does not exclude the possibility of sodomy”.

The U.S Ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote, voiced his outrage to the news saying: “Decisions like this oppressive sentencing do untold damage to Zambia’s international reputation by demonstrating that human rights in Zambia [are] not a universal guarantee”.

Further bemoaning the severity of the sentence, considering that “government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution,” he wrote.

This caused him to get backlash from the Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji who said he will lodge a complaint with Washington about the ambassador’s comments. While, Zambian President Edgar Lungu slammed Foote for being disrespectful towards Zambian culture and values.

“We know that there could be people who are homosexual in Zambia but we don’t want to promote it,” Lungu said.

“We frown on it… the practice… most of us think it’s wrong… it’s unbiblical and unchristian… and we don’t want it”.

Pan Africa ILGA described the prosecution of the two men as “a gross violation of privacy and by extension, an assault on the dignity of the parties” and a violation of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

“We join the international audience that is speaking against this miscarriage of justice. We call on Africans as well as the international human rights defenders, governments and relevant stakeholders to embolden the voice that decries the homophobic laws that are used to persecute queer Africans today,”
stated the organisation.