Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Zambia gay Rights Activist Paul Kasonkomona Acquitted

Paul Kasonkomona has vowed
to continue fighting for "the
rights of all Zambians"
A Zambian court has acquitted
a human rights activist on
charges of promoting
homosexuality, in a ruling
hailed as a boost for gay rights
in Africa.

Paul Kasonkomona was charged
with "soliciting for immoral
purposes" after arguing for gay
rights on a TV show in April
But on Tuesday a magistrate
found that the state had failed to
prove its case.

Homosexuality is illegal in deeply
conservative Zambia - as it is in
some 40 African countries.
On Monday, Uganda toughened
its anti-gay laws - introducing
life sentences for gay sex and
same-sex marriage, banning the
"promotion" of homosexuality
and requiring citizens to report
suspected homosexuals.

Denmark, Norway and the
Netherlands have blocked some
direct aid to the Ugandan
government as a result.
'Landmark judgement'
Mr Kasonkomona was arrested
and released on bail after
arguing that recognition of gay
rights was necessary if the Aids
epidemic was to be effectively
addressed in Africa.

"The magistrate was clear:
public discussion is important,"
Anneke Meerkotter - a lawyer at
the Southern Africa Litigation
Centre, which campaigned for
Mr Kasonkomona - told AFP
news agency.

"This is a great victory for
freedom of expression. The
mood in court was one of great
relief. Kasonkomona did not
deserve to be arrested for
expressing his opinion and the
court ruling vindicates his
Mr Kasonkomona told AFP his
acquittal was a "landmark
judgement" and vowed to keep
to speak out "for the rights of all

Reference: BBC News

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