16th December 2019

Zambia gay rights row: US ambassador 'threatened' over jailing of couple

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‘The US ambassador (Daniel Foote) to Zambia has said he has been threatened over his comments on the sentencing of a gay couple, deepening a diplomatic row.

A judge quashed an appeal against their conviction last week, sentencing them both to 15 years in prison.
Same-sex relationships are outlawed in Zambia, where British colonial-era laws on homosexuality still apply.

Mr Foote implored the Zambian government to review the case and its homosexuality laws, but has since faced a backlash for doing so.

Mr Foote stated:
"I was shocked at the venom and hate directed at me and my country, largely in the name of 'Christian' values, by a small minority of Zambians,"

He denied accusations that his comments amounted to interference in Zambia's judiciary and constitutional affairs.

"It is up to Zambian citizens and the courts to decide if your laws correspond to your constitution, but your constitution itself provides every person the right to freedom and expression of conscience and belief," he said.

"I expressed my belief about a law and a harsh sentencing I don't agree with. I didn't interfere in internal affairs."

In turn, Mr Foote accused President Lungu of interfering in judicial affairs through statements "rejecting homosexual rights".

Information from BBC world news