After being denied police bond and incarcerated for four days, Human Rights activist Paul Kasonkomona is expected to be taken to court today.
Kasonkomona has been charged with an offence of ‘soliciting in a public place for an immoral purpose.’ Kasonkomona is likely to apply for court bail when he appears in court today.
Meanwhile, an NGO called friends of Rainka says Kasonkomona did not go to Muvi TV to promote homosexuality.
“Paul Kasonkomona did not advocate for promotion of homosexuality on Muvi TV. He is not a gay rights activist; he went on the programme to discuss the negative impact of HIV/Aids on most at risk populations such as sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men who are often neglected in current national HIV/Aids responses, of course there was no other way of highlighting the challenges without employing a rights based approach,” the group said.
Kasonkomona was one of the first HIV/Aids activists in Zambia to reveal his HIV status, campaign against stigma, and encourage affected individuals to access treatment. He has represented Zambia at different international and local protocols including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and was instrumental in shaping in the current HIV/Aids agenda in Zambia and Africa alongside the late Winston Zulu and Father Michael Kelly. His work with Engender Rights Zambia provides services to sex workers with regards to HIV/Aids interventions.
“For Paul, the situation is critical: the police cell in which he is being held will compromise his health. There are about ten other prisoners in there with him, it’s unsanitary, and he can easily contract opportunistic infections like tuberculosis and pneumonia. He requires immediate specialist medical attention and needs to return home to his family,” Friends of Rainka said.
Section 155(a) and 157 of the Zambian Penal Code CAP 88 criminalises consensual same sex-acts whereas, section 178(g) prevents the promotion of immoral acts in Zambia, however, the Zambian constitution, which is the most sacrosanct law of the land under Article 23 guarantees protection of all persons from discrimination.
Kasonkomona and other human rights activists are not demanding for any special rights for any people person, they are merely requesting for the fulfillment of the basic fundamental rights for all Zambians as enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights which states that, ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’
‘In the words of UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: ‘When I raise these issues, some complain that I’m pushing for “new rights” or “special rights” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But there is nothing new or special about the right to life and security of person, the right to freedom from discrimination. These and other rights are universal … enshrined in international law but denied to many of our fellow human beings simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.’