State witness ‘exonerates’ Zambian gay activist

Lusaka – A key witness in the trial of a prominent Zambian gay rights activist on Monday denied hearing the defendant pressing for same-sex marriages during a live television show.

Paul Kasonkomona, 38, is facing charges of “soliciting for immoral purposes” following his arrest in April minutes after he appeared on a privately-owned television station.

But a policeman who is the main witness for the state appeared to exonerate Kasonkomona after a recording of the programme was replayed as evidence in court on Monday.

“From the recording he did not agree that gay marriages should take place in Zambia,” policeman Kalowa Mwanamwale told magistrate Lameck Ngambi.

The prosecution had interpreted his statements during the television discussion as promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in the country.

Kasonkomona pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The hearing was adjourned to 27 November to give the state time to summon more witnesses.

Same-sex relationships are outlawed in Zambia and a sodomy conviction carries a 14-year prison sentence.

Discrimination against gays and lesbians is also rife in the southern African nation.


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