Amnesty calls for release of Zambia's first arrested gay couple

Philip Mubiana (centre) and James Mwape (second left) being taken into a police holding cell at a magistrates court on May 8 2013 in Lusaka. (AFP)

Philip Mubiana (centre) and James Mwape (second left) being taken into a police holding cell at a magistrates court on May 8 2013 in Lusaka. (AFP)

Zambian police arrested James Mwape (22) and Philip Mubiana (22) from Kapiri Mposhi on April 25 2013, after the family of one of the men reported the relationship to authorities. Mwape and Mubiana's case was the first known arrest of a gay couple in Zambia.

They will appear in court on September 12 for a remand hearing. They have been in custody since May 6 2013 facing two counts each of committing offences "against the order of nature".

"It is high time that individuals stopped being persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people," said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

Amnesty International says they are also troubled by reports that, on two occasions in May, government doctors forcibly performed conductedanal exams on both Mwape and Mubiana. 

"Anal exams are inherently invasive, abusive, profoundly humiliating and conducted for reasons based purely on discrimination," said Mawanza.

"This procedure is not only scientifically illegitimate, it is also a form of sexual assault and is tantamount to torture. Any "findings" that result from it cannot be used as evidence in a trial against the victims."

Arrests of activists
​In April gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona was detained overnight after appearing on Zambian TV and demanding the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Zambia.

Kasonkomona was being driven from the Muvi TV studio in the capital, Lusaka, when police stopped his car. He was detained overnight at a local station and charged with "inciting the public to take part in indecent activities", police said.

Officers reportedly tried to stop Kasonkomona's interview as it was in progress but managers at the TV station refused to take him off air. – Additional reporting by AFP

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