Zambia tells UK off over gay laws
Zambia will not to enact pro-homosexuality laws in a bid to get British aid, a government spokesperson said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron this week said Britain will consider withholding aid from countries that did not recognise gay rights, after leaders of the 54-nation Commonwealth – at a meeting in Australia – failed to adopt reforms on homosexuality.
But Zambia’s chief government spokesperson Given Lubinda said the southern African nation would only enact laws supported by its citizens and in line with their culture.
“David Cameron must be reminded of what we agreed when we met in Paris for the Paris Declaration. Cameron was there, I was there,” said Mr Lubinda, an opposition parliamentarian at the time the Paris Declaration was penned.
“When we met in Ghana, we came up with the Accra Agenda for Action and both those declarations are that no country will use its aid to influence the policies of an aid receiving country.”
He said Zambia was a sovereign state and would make independent decisions on which laws to enact.
“It is wrong for Mr Cameron to try and use aid as a way of influencing policies and laws of Zambia or any other country for that matter,” said Mr Lubinda, the country’s minister of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism.
“Zambia will not be pressured to formulate laws or policies by any foreign government,” Mr Lubinda told Lusaka-based Hot FM Radio
Mr Cameron told the BBC that: “We want to see countries that receive our aid adhere to proper human rights, and that includes how people treat gay and lesbian people.”
Zambia, constitutionally a Christian nation with about 13 million people, is largely conservative and many citizens are opposed to homosexuality.
Neighbouring Botswana’s ex-president Festus Mogae – chairperson of a grouping of prominent African fighting Aids – last year sparked controversy while visiting Zambia when he urged African governments not to enact laws that criminalise homosexuality and sex work.
Apart from South Africa that has laws that protect homosexuality though uneasily, other countries in the 15-nation regional bloc – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – are mainly uninterested in gay and lesbian rights.