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Catholic Church blasts Zambia for ‘pro-gay smear’ campaign

The Catholic Church in Zambia on Friday accused President Rupiah Banda’s government of using state media to accuse it of supporting homosexuality and backing the opposition in this year’s election.

“Since all public media are owned and controlled by government, we can safely conclude that these attacks on our Church are sponsored by government,” said Bishop George Lungu, the church’s top official in Zambia.

“Whatever the case, this is not the way to win the Catholic vote in an election year,” Lungu added.

The remarks were contained in a letter dated on Friday, which is to be read in all Catholic parishes on June 5.

State media have recently been giving unlimited coverage to critics of the church.

Every Tuesday, state-run television has been running documentaries produced by freelance journalist Chanda Chimba, denouncing the church as well as opposition leader Michael Sata.

In his documentaries, Chimba accuses the church of supporting Sata during elections due later this year, and further alleges that the church promotes homosexuality.

“It has become clear that these attacks on our church are co-ordinated and planned. We know, for example, that the likes of Chanda Chimba, a Catholic, would never on their own accord have the operational and financial ability to carry on the kind of attacks being waged against Catholics,” Lungu said.

Lungu added that the church did not in any way support homosexuality.

“Let me restate categorically that Catholic teaching does not promote homosexuality,” he said. “Homosexual acts are seriously wrong and sinful. Under no circumstances can homosexual acts be approved.”

Banda is running for re-election this year, with Sata a top rival. During the last election in 2008, Banda supporters believed the church was backing Sata, although such support was never openly declared. — Sapa

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