Zambia police call for public help to hunt lesbian couple
Police in Zambia have called on the public to help them track down two women who they believe are in a lesbian relationship.
Laws in the country ban gay sex for both men and women, with a punishment of up to 14 years in prison.
Officers from the national cybercrime unit started an investigation after seeing photos of the pair on social media which implied they were together, according to Zambian news site Mwebantu.
The anti-gay law dates back to when Zambia was part of the British colony of Rhodesia.
It states that “any person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature or has carnal knowledge of an animal” is guilty of a felony.
They are then “liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”
This conflation of homosexuality with bestiality highlights the way in which gay people are seen in Zambia.
Even if gay sex is simply judged to have been attempted, two people can face seven years in prison.
This is the same prison sentence which can be handed down to people who are found guilty of “unlawfully and indecently assaulting a boy under the age of fourteen years”.
Incest is punishable by five years in prison.
In 2014, the Zambian government reaffirmed its opposition to homosexuality, labelling gay rights an affront to Christianity and the constitution.
President Edgar Lungu said in 2013 that “those advocating gay rights should go to hell,” adding that as far as he was concerned, “that issue is foreign to this country.”
Britain is responsible for many of the anti-gay laws still in effect around the world.
One of these former colonies is Zimbabwe, which borders Zambia and was also part of Rhodesia.
Long-serving homophobic tyrant Robert Mugabe was ousted late last year by his lieutenant Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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But the new leader was not interested advancing LGBT rights.
Dozens of African countries outlaw gay sex, and South Africa is the only nation on the continent where same-sex marriage is legal.
Even in South Africa, attacks on gay and lesbian people are disturbingly common.