Amnesty International has called for Zambia to drop the charges against Phillip Mubiana and James Mwape, two men jailed for allegedly engaging in same-sex acts.
The 22-year-olds both face two counts each of committing offenses “against the order of nature” and have been in custody since May 6. They are set to appear in court on Monday for a judge to determine if they should be held longer.
“It is high time that individuals stopped being persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.
Initially arrested in April 2013 and jailed for several days, Mubiana and Mwape were ultimately granted bail and released, but arrested only four days later after a neighbor filed a police report.
Amnesty International writes:
“The arrest of anyone for their real or perceived sexual orientation violates the fundamental principle of non-discrimination which underlines human rights law,” said Simeon Mawanza.
Amnesty International considers the two men prisoners of conscience as they were arrested under laws criminalising consensual, private, same-sex sexual conduct. Such laws contravene international human rights law.
The organisation is also troubled by reports that on two occasions in May, government doctors forcibly conducted anal exams on both Mwape and Mubiana. The government owned Zambia News and Information Services quoted Central Province Commissioner of Police, Standwell Lungu, confirming medical exams had been conducted.
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