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Trial of Zambian gay rights activist opens

30 October 2013, 09:51

Lusaka - The high-profile trial of a prominent Zambian gay rights activist opened Tuesday with a police officer saying he had instructions to arrest him during a live television programme.

Paul Kasonkomona, 38, was arrested in April and charged with "soliciting for immoral purposes" after arguing for gay rights during the television show.

His arguments were interpreted as promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in the country.

"We were sent to go and apprehend Kasonkomona and we obeyed those instructions," police officer Kalowa Mwanamwale told magistrate Lameck Ngambi.

Kasonkomona pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The hearing was adjourned to 11 November after attempts to play a recording of the television programme in court as part of the evidence failed.

Zambian law has banned same-sex relationships since British colonial rule, and a sodomy conviction carries a 14-year prison sentence. Discrimination against gays and lesbians in the African country is rife.



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