GAY RIGHTS IN ZAMBIA – WHO HAS THE ANSWERS?

Columnists, Theresa Lungu 14 16

By Theresa Lungu

Theresa Lungu

It has been interesting to read the varying reactions of Zambians to the suggestion by UN Secretary General Ki-Moon for Zambia to consider gay rights.   The headline has been the most commented on story on blogs. “Homosexuality is an evil/wicked thing, only a fool can call it human rights,” one blogger on Lusaka times wrote. Do we really have people who are gay in Zambia or is it just a western phenomenon?,  yet another blogger asked. Ultimately, the Zambian government issued a statement this morning that homosexuality is not allowed in Zambia.

The question is, what is wrong with two adults having consensual sex? Whether it is two women or two men.  Must human rights be selective? vis a vis, only to be awarded to people who have sex the ‘accepted’ way?  Additionally, what is the social and economic impact of gay people in Zambia?

Some years back, a neighbor in Luanshya impregnated his 16 year old niece.  The family hushed it up and sent the girl away. My neighbor and his wife are still married.  Is this man who rapes a child better than a man or woman who has consensual sex with another adult?

Religious organizations in Zambia would rather see hell than tolerate gay citizens.  Doesn’t the bible teach acceptance and to let God be the judge?  What makes it right to discriminate against people because they are in the minority?

I often wonder how it must have felt like for our forefathers in slavery when they were considered half human because of their skin color or for South Africans who lived through apartheid.  I wonder too how gay people in Zambia feel, the fear of coming out in the open, the rejection.  I bet every Zambian condemns slave masters and Boers for the mistreatment of blacks and yet they pat each other on the backs for discriminating against Gay people.  Basically, aren’t bigotry and racism in the same bracket?

Peace and equality is what many citizens of the world strive for and I truly hope Zambia is also striving for the same. A Zambia where every woman, man and child are treated equally regardless of their gender, sex orientation, religious belief, disability or skin color.

About the author / 

Theresa Lungu

Theresa Lungu is founder of Books for Zambia, www.Booksforzambia.com. Born and raised in Luanshya, Zambia, Theresa has seen and felt the acute need for enhanced early childhood education in Zambia. She started Books For Zambia in 2003 to save Luanshya Library from the verge of closure. A graduate of Boston College, she now lives in Massachusetts and works at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. Theresa is also the author of ‘Twilight In The Morning’ and is looking to publish her second novel, 'Torment of an Angel' in the near future.

14 Comments

  1. Chanda Musonda April 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm -  Reply

    It is very disappointing to read some of the comments above.
    I am not a gay person but i think discriminating gay people is a form of discrimination or bigotry not different from racism, sexism, and all forms of bigotry.
    A lot of people try to justify homophobia because the old testament “encourages” it somewhere in Leviticus or Deutronomy, i can’t remember now which one it is. At the same same time Christians (which I am too) will say only God will judge each person , and that Jesus Christ came with a new covenant that surpasses or overides what is in the old testament.
    Four Hundred years ago, Europeans carried out the slave trade & used the old testament as justification for what was done to Black Africans during the days of slavery; the old testament is a dangerous book: it preaches “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”; “I will punish the children for the father’s sins” etc etc a lot of dangerous teachings which are used as justification for discrimination and violence by religions which believe in the old testament alone like moslems and Jews: You can see for yourselves the consequences of the old testament in the Middle east (Palestine and Israel for example). The old testament says “you can sell your daughter or your neighbour into slavery” a dangerous teaching which was used by Europeans to justify the slave trade.
    Back to homosexuality: Even in ancient Greeks, for whom a same- sex affair was something that all men ought to have at least once, thought it tricky!
    It is not true that gay people choose to be gay; Dr Manda & Dr Katele Kalumba pretend to be “specialists” on matters in which they are not. I know that as former student of both. They shouldn’t be giving “expert opinion” on matters on which they are not experts.
    To discriminate gay people is to embrace all forms of discrimination: if you discriminate against gay people don’t complain against racists. The government of Zambia must consider erasing homophobic laws from the Zambian constitution; Erase them and at least leave those pages blank or at most outlaw homophobia.
    If someone “comes out to you” that he or she is gay, neither curse irately nor shrug your shoulders indifferently. Say, ” Do you know, I don’t think I am quite sure what I seem either”!

  2. Al Gunn March 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm -  Reply

    Fantastic article, and brave given the views some Zambians express on this issue.

  3. Open your eyes March 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm -  Reply

    Nature Quest. Please speak up for others who do not even have this forum. Put a face on gays in Zambia.

    My family just found out that an uncle is gay and they are not talking to him. Before that they all flocked to him for money.

    • Nature Quest March 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm -  Reply

      sorry to hear that about your uncle,they are actually killing him by treating him like that! what good will it do to stop talking to him? is he an animal? no he was created in Gods image and just like your uncle is not perfect so are they.What makes them think there sins are more acceptable than others! This kind of treatment is unfair,i did not choose to get the exposure i found it in my environment what people need to see is that those with gay inclinations need rehabilitation and not condemnation.I feel for your uncle and i’m worried that it may drive him into depression.Iam writing an article which i hope will be published by the local dailys soon,its a lid of the pot.I wonder how old your uncle is?

  4. Nature Quest March 7, 2012 at 7:03 am -  Reply

    Let me confess that at 41 i find myself being attracted to my own kind…MEN! I’ve had this attraction since childhood and i know for sure that it is WRONG WRONG WRONG because its against the order of nature.I have done some extensive reading and agree with some psychologists that no one is born gay,its a way of life that you learn from your environment and to a less extent it may arise as a result of having an ineffectual father and an over influential mother (thats debatable).No one is born a witch, a drunkard or a drug addict ,all of these things are learned from our environment.Whitney Houston got exposed to drugs from Bobby Brown she was not born an addict! What Zambia needs to see right now is the need to HELP this group of people,condemning them will not help because they are key figures in society.Ostracizing them will mean Lawyers,Doctors,Scientists,Accountants,Bankers,Military Personnel,Politicians,Teachers (and i fit in one of these categories) etc will be condemned.Do not misunderstand me i am not saying lets promote gay rights NO NO ,all i’m saying is that Zambia should assume a very conciliatory role and reach out beyond justice to mercy.We can lead the way in helping to rehabilitate our brothers and sisters who were exposed to the wrong thing.Zambia’s reaction while good on one hand lacks deep thought on the other and the most dissappointing are the clergy because their reasoninfg is too radical.They are not offering solutions because even they cannot claim to be perfect neither can they claim that this is the GREATEST SIN,blaspheming against the Holy Ghost is! So while EFZ can issue well written statements on the subject what solutions are they offering men and women who are closeted and so afraid to come out? some are in their churches and in fact some are even pastors.Lets lead the way and show other African countries a more christian/civilised way of doing things….

    • Pandwe Mushinso Wa N’gona. March 7, 2012 at 2:56 pm -  Reply

      Well said… what the ‘hang and burn gays brigade’ need to understand is that homosexuals are not ‘aliens’ but they can be your brother, your lawyer , your doctor , your son or sister.

      I see no contradiction stating that i believe homosexuality is UNNATURAL or that i personally find it distateful… and upholding the right of CONSENTING ADULTS to choose their sexaul lifestyles. It is not about PROMOTING this lifestyle, it is about showing compassion and understanding to people who are ‘not quite like us’. It is also about protecting minorities under our laws.

      It is NOT long ago that a black man could be HANGED for looking at ,let alone tounching a white woman… all because the MAJORITY thought it was Un Godly,shameful and disgusting. History should always teach us something.

  5. kamwendo March 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm -  Reply

    The Argument that one is born gay, will quickly lead down a very slippery slope!!!
    If we do accept this notion, we might as well accept the NOTION THAT THE NEXT TIME YOU FIND YOUR NEIGHBOUR or who ever, Copulating with a pet or livestock in the field, they were “born” that way & STOP PERSECUTING THOSE THAT INDULGE IN BESTIALITY!!!

    We have to accept that NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS COMPLETELY BLACK OR WHITE, there are various shades of grey in between. Just as we accept that Trans-sexuals are a psycho-social sexual disorder, Homosexuality was considered the same at one time. However, what moved it out of the closet so to speak, was the fact that as more & more prominent figures of our modern society started coming out, with the obvious influence they portend, society’s view of the practice was brought to question, the morality of DISCRIMINATION was drawn into the argument. However, we have to remember, that up to this point in time, exactly what they were discriminated against, hasn’t been very well defined, though there is no denying that they were indeed looked down upon & people had their own biases. DISCRIMINATION has only come to the fore where MARRIAGE with its benefits as applies to the shared possessions.
    It is these aspects that seem to bring up the furore. The Church is bitterly opposed toindeed having marriage demeaned. Am SO SURPRISED AS TO WHY NO ONE HAS JUST THOUGHT OF ANOTHER TERM, which would both mean same sex “marriage” & carry the exact same benefits that marriage does. However, there are certain benfits such as children that I find diifcult to reconcile with – simply becoz if TWO ADULTS, adults being the operative word, go into such union, they are mature enough to realise that such a union DOES NOT BEAR CHILDREN, & as such must accept that as a fact of life!!! YOU SIMPLY CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE & EAT IT!!!! Yes i do appreciate there are many orphaned/abandoned children in need of loving house-holds, BUT NO ONE HAS DONE RESEARCH ON BEHALF OF THESE KIDS TO DETERMINE WHAT PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS ARE WROUGHT ON THEM BY SUCH UNIONS, SOCIETY HAS JUST FOCUSSED ON THE NEEDS OF THESE ADULTS WHO NOW HAVE INFLUENCE & A STRONG VOICE!!! NO ONE SEEMS TO BE SPEAKING FOR THE KIDS!!!! They seem to have no choice in it becoz of their DESPERATE SITUATION!!!

  6. Jam March 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm -  Reply

    Sigmund you are entitled to your opinion but not to your own facts. How do people learn to be gay? If you really believed what you were saying I doubt you would have put the word learned in quotation marks. Secondly, an entire cohort of psychologists support Freud. How many major books have Dr. Manda and Dr. Kalumba written? And no I did not say they were less intelligent than Freud however we need to face the fact that they are playing to electorate which may at times mean departing from their professional integrity ie I can assure you that they do not believe a word they say.

  7. Sigmund March 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm -  Reply

    Who says Freud was more “intelligent” or a better psychologist than Kalumba? Freud was just as human as any other scientist – not everything he said is true! Freud was just hiding his own sexuality when he wrote what he did. There is no way anyone can be born homosexual. It is a “learned” behaivour through experiences in their life from molestatation to fascination, socialisation and disdain of the opposite sex for whatever reason.

  8. Jam March 5, 2012 at 7:52 am -  Reply

    Hahahahaahaah Puritan. Three points:
    (1) Dr. Manda and Dr. Kalumba’s statements, as much as I respect the men, are grossly underrepresented. Sometimes playing to the masses may mean losing one’s professional integrity.
    (2) Tied to the first point. I would recommend that you read the writings of Freud on homosexuality. He believes that both biological and psychological factors contribute to homosexuality. The entire academic community in the field of psychology would find it laughable that these two men disagree with Freud.
    (3) Since when did Dr. Kalumba suddenly become the moral compass of our nation? :)

  9. Puritan March 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm -  Reply

    @ Jam I don’t know if you have read the comments of two Zambian scientists, Drs Katele Kalumba & Francis Manda, who contend that no one is born homosexual (Zambia Daily Mail Sunday, 4th March 2012) meaning that it is a choice. In this regards, I have to agree with Ke Nako. Please read the analysis of the two noble Zambian researchers if you have not done so.

  10. Jam March 4, 2012 at 6:13 am -  Reply

    Ke nako the proposition that homosexuality is a choice is misplaced. Who would choose such a lifestyle? Get real. It is not a choice. Gay people are born gay.

  11. Ke Nako March 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm -  Reply

    Theresa – you are missing one key point: there is no such thing as “gay rights” because to be homosexual is not a right but a choice. Similarly, marriage is not a right – otherwise everyone would be married! Every human being’s rights are protected by law in Zambia. However, the legal definition of marriage in Zambia, the UK and some states in the US is a “union between a man and a woman”. If two men or women wish to live together in the UK, for example, the law allows them to enter a “civil partnership”. I accept your point that some people, who are not Christian, may choose to live outside of that. For these, they must accept to follow the law of every land they live in.

    • Nature Quest March 7, 2012 at 7:45 am -  Reply

      Iam bisexual,though i lean more to the gay side .I find Zambias reaction somewhat impulsive because we needed to think this issue through alot more carefully.Do not get me wrong i am not saying lets PROMOTE GAY RIGHTS…NO! what i am saying is that this vice exists in Zambia and there are several educated,well placed people in society practising this way of life.This includes doctors,lawyers,scientists,bankers,accountants,engineers,teachers (i fit into one of these categories)etc etc We therefore need to understand that instead of condemning homosexuality what can we do to correct the situation? enforcing laws yes is a part solution but do you know what gays go through? does anyone out there fully appreciate the pain,fear and failure to understand ones feelings? i have gone through a mini hell because i do not understand myself fully! why do i get attarcted to my own kind? I however do understand that God is a God of mercy and will help me as long as i submit to His will.I know for sure that i was not born this way but that i learned it as i was growing up and i can even point to a few events in my early childhood that exposed me to male to male intimacy.To therefore stand on a pedestal and condemn the gay man or woman needs careful thought,very careful thought.Can Zambia lead the way in approaching this subject ina totally different way? The church must in essence lead the way but what i’m seeing now is that the church is leading the condemnation galre without offering any solutions! EFZ must provide solutions besides the bible is our map,compass and guide.Lets not just focus on justice,what about mercy? gays have a lot of fears,some want to stop but cannot come out because the perfect ,sinless Zambians will embarass them and dent their images.It can be a very painful life speaking from experience,very frustrating and extremely lonely.I dono t believe i was born this way but that i learned from my environment,i can clearly remember some incidents in my childhood that exposes me to intimacy with other males without knowing the consequences,several other incidences built on thisfoundation and the feeling assumed its space in my life.

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