from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE issue of same-sex relations returned to haunt Zambia as the world marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
An opposition party in the southern African country urged the government to expel all ambassadors flying the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) flag on Zambian soil.
The Golden Party of Zambia (GPZ) argued the continued flying of the rainbow flags at the American, European Union (EU), Swedish and other foreign embassies to commemorate IDAHOBIT in a country that criminalises the same is a gross violation of its constitution and sovereignty.
Silavwe Jackson, president of the party, said additionally, Article 20 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provided for the mission to fly its flag and emblem which are deposited and registered with the host foreign affairs.
“Has the pro-LGBTQ foreign nations deposited the flags with the Zambian foreign affairs ministry?” Jackson asked, rhetorically.
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer/questioning.
Jackson said it was “blatantly clear” that the above mentioned nations had no respect for the laws of Zambia, the hosting nation.
“We call on President Hakainde Hichilema’s government to expel from Zambia all the foreign ambassadors involved to show the world just how serious we are as a nation against the LGBTQ agenda,” the opposition leader said.
While Hichilema’s government has reiterated it will not uphold LGBTQ rights, critics accuse him of a soft stance against these members of the community.
Critics believe this is because of the government solidifying relations with the United States (US) since he assumed power in 2021.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to exposing the harm conversion therapy practices cause to LGBTQI+ persons.
“We reaffirm the importance of ensuring access to evidence-based healthcare without discrimination or stigma regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or sex characteristics,” he said.
Blinken said the American government of President Joe Biden recommitted to opposing the criminalization of LGBTQI+ status or conduct, which can drive the pathologising of LGBTQI+ persons and the practice of conversion therapy.
“We confirm that conversion therapy practices are inconsistent with US nondiscrimination policies and ineligible for support through taxpayer-funded foreign assistance grants and contracts,” Blinken stated.
Same-sex relations have previously been a source of conflict between Zambia and the US.
In 2019, the US recalled its ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Lewis Foote, after he clashed with the Zambian government of then president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
The envoy had condemned the conviction of two men found to have performed consensual sex acts. The US threatened to withhold aid to Zambia but the Patriotic Front (PF) government of Lungu stood its ground.
Critics accuse Hichilema’s administration of cosying up to the West, contrary to the ideals of Zambia’s liberation struggle.
– CAJ News