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Zambia police call for public help to hunt lesbian couple

Josh Jackman February 1, 2018
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Zambian riot policeman gets ready to fire a tear gas canister to disperser Zambian traders and vendors during a march to protest over a ban on street commerce aimed at curbing a deadly cholera outbreak, in Lusaka, on January 15, 2018. Police in Zambia's capital Lusaka fired tear gas at angry traders marching to the president's office. The 500-strong crowd was trying to deliver a petition to President Edgar Lungu who has become the public face of the campaign against the outbreak that has claimed at least 70 lives since September. Authorities have banned several street markets in Lusaka in an effort to reduce the volume of food and drink sold in unsanitary open-air locations, which are particularly vulnerable to the spread of cholera. / AFP PHOTO / DAWOOD SALIM (Photo credit should read DAWOOD SALIM/AFP/Getty Images)

Zambia police. (Getty)

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.

Zambian police officers arrive at the University of Zambia where students protest against the government’s removal of fuel and mealie meal subsidies on May 17, 2013 in Lusaka. Zambian President Michael Sata ordered police to arrest and expel the students who were protesting. In a country with high unemployment, 60 percent of people living in poverty and the average income at $3.45 a day, any significant increase will cause economic and social shocks. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

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.”

Zambian riot police officers patrol in the streets of Lusaka, on January 15, 2018, during march of Zambian traders and vendors to protest over a ban on street commerce aimed at curbing a deadly cholera outbreak. Police in Zambia's capital Lusaka fired tear gas at angry traders marching to the president's office. The 500-strong crowd was trying to deliver a petition to President Edgar Lungu who has become the public face of the campaign against the outbreak that has claimed at least 70 lives since September. Authorities have banned several street markets in Lusaka in an effort to reduce the volume of food and drink sold in unsanitary open-air locations, which are particularly vulnerable to the spread of cholera. / AFP PHOTO / DAWOOD SALIM (Photo credit should read DAWOOD SALIM/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

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”.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu attends the inauguration day of the Agriculture and Commercial fair on August 5, 2017 in Lusaka. Lungu invoked emergency powers last month, increasing police powers of arrest and detention, and blaming opposition parties for a string of arson attacks. / AFP PHOTO / DAWOOD SALIM (Photo credit should read DAWOOD SALIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Zambian President Edgar Lungu (Getty)

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.”

A couple kiss as members of the South African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade at Durban's North Beach as part of the three-day Durban Pride Festival in Durban on June 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / RAJESH JANTILAL (Photo credit should read RAJESH JANTILAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Pride in South Africa (Getty)

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.

Last week, the country’s new President shot down questions about whether he will roll back Zimbabwe’s harsh anti-LGBT policies.

Emmerson Mnangagwa (Photo by ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Long-serving homophobic tyrant Robert Mugabe was ousted late last year by his lieutenant Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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.

(Facebook/Wynand van Niekerk)

Even in South Africa, attacks on gay and lesbian people are disturbingly common.

Just last month, a lesbian couple in the country was raped, tortured, murdered and set on fire.

Related topics: Africa, Africa, Crime, Law, police, South Africa, Zambia, zambia, Zimbabwe

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