The Zambian government has reaffirmed its opposition to homosexuality, labelling gay rights an ‘affront’ to Christianity and the Constitution.

Foreign Affairs Minister Gabriel Namulambe made the comments to journalists, speaking after a meeting with Shannon Smith, of the US Bureau of African Affairs.

He said: “I want to make it very clear here that as Government, we have the Constitution to protect and in the preamble of our Constitution, Zambia is a Christian Nation and as such we live by the Christian values and we will not be able to recognise gay rights.

“This is because it is untraditional to our culture, and we have appealed to our colleagues to respect our stance that as Zambians, we shall remain a Christian Nation.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia for both men and women, and gay people face regular persecution, hate crimes and arrests.

Two men arrested for having consensual private sex ‘against the order of nature’ last May remain imprisoned in the country, despite no verdict being delivered in their trial.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the country to act, to end the persecution of gay people.

Five men have been arrested under Zambia’s anti-sodomy laws in the past year, and that human rights activists have been targeted by police.

In addition, online publications, particularly Tumfewko.com and Zambian Eye, have been “outing” individuals as “gay and lesbian leaders”, exposing them to discrimination and the risk of violence.