Zambia couple charged with engaging in homosexual acts


This picture taken on Jan. 12, 2012 shows a gay couple, who wish to remain anonymous. They faced deadly persecution in their home country and fled to Nairobi, Kenya. The new anti-homosexuality bill in neighboring Uganda touched off a wave of homophobia, an example of an increasing incidence of openly hostile environment for LGBT individuals.


Tony Karumba

Two Zambian men in the small town of Kapiri Mposhi have pleaded not guilty after being arrested for engaging in homosexual acts.

“The two have been charged with the offense of sodomy or having sex against the order of nature contrary to the laws of Zambia,” said central province police chief Standwell Lungu.

James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, both 22, were charged with four counts of committing "unnatural" sexual acts in Zambia, where homosexual acts can lead to a jail sentence of up to 14 years under the country's law.

This was the second time Mwape and Mubiana were arrested in the last few days over allegations that they engaged in homosexual acts. Police first received a tip-off and arrested the pair over the weekend, releasing them on bail on Monday after the two men underwent medical examinations to confirm the allegations.

They were then arrested again the following day after a relative called police to accuse them of having sex the night they were released from custody.

Mwape and Mubiana are now in police custody until their trial starts on May 22.

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Human rights activists have condemned Zambia's law against homosexuality, including Josab Changa, who spoke out about the couple's recent arrest.

"Arresting them is an infringement on their human rights. Human rights should be respected irrespective of the perceived evil that somebody may do," Changa said.

In 2011, both the UK and the US said they would use foreign aid to push for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Africa, where South Africa is one of the few countries to legalize it.