A gay rights activist has pleaded not guilty to promoting homosexuality in Zambia.

38-year-old Paul Kasonkomona was arrested last Sunday following a live television appearance in which he argued for gay rights in the African nation.

Officers reportedly tried to cut the interview short, but managers of the television station refused.

He was charged with “inciting the public to take part in indecent activities”.

Laws in Zambia prohibit same-sex sexual activity between both males and females.

“I deny the charge, your honour,” Mr Kasonkomona said on Thursday in his first court appearance since being charged.

AFP reports Mr Kasonkomona’s arrest has outraged human rights groups which have called for his immediate release.

“We urge the Zambian police to withdraw the spurious charge against Paul Kasonkomona and release him from custody with immediate effect,” said Anneke Meerkotter, a lawyer at the Southern African Litigation Centre.

It was “outrageous” that Mr Kasonkomona had spent three nights in detention for “such a minor offence”, she said.