Home Society Zambian jailed gay couple pardoned in presidential amnesty

Zambian jailed gay couple pardoned in presidential amnesty

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Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu waits to speak at the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations on September 25, 2018 in New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)

President Edgar Lungu has pardoned two men who were jailed last year for having sex with each other.

Their 15-year sentence caused a diplomatic commotion, which ended in the recalling of the US ambassador.

Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba were listed among the names of nearly 3,000 inmates to be pardoned to mark Africa Freedom Day.

Zambia is a deeply conservative Christian society where homosexuality is illegal and this legislation was inherited from the British colonial era.

The High Court in Lusaka, sentenced the two men for having sex “against the order of nature”.

At the time, US ambassador Daniel Foote begged the Zambian government to review the case and its homosexuality laws. The government felt that the ambassador was trying to use the aid money that the US gives as leverage.

In response the diplomat’s remarks, President Lungu then said that he did not “want such people in our midst. We want him gone”.

Mr Foote was recalled back to Washington in December.

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