A gay couple “charged with the offence of sodomy or having sex against the order of nature contrary to the laws of Zambia” have gone on trial.

James Mwape and Philip Mubiana were arrested in May after the family of one of the men reported the relationship to authorities.

Human rights activist Josab Changa said at the time: “Arresting them is an infringement on their human rights. Human rights should be respected irrespective of the perceived evil that somebody may do.”

Zambian media reports the trial is being held behind closed doors “due to improper language” and “sordid revelations”.

The authorities had reportedly subjected the men to anal examinations without their consent, and had possibly forced them to make confessions in order to speed up the trial, Amnesty International warned in May.

Sentences of 14 years can be issued for those convicted of same-sex sexual activity in Zambia.

In April, gay rights activist and HIV campaigner Paul Kasonkomona was arrested and charged following a live television appearance in which he argued for same-sex relationships to be decriminalised in the African nation.

He is currently on trial and his lawyers argue that his arrest violated a constitutional protection on freedom of expression.