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Zambia: High court rules activist’s free-speech rights weren’t violated

Paul Kasonkomona to face trial for gay-rights appeal on television

Gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona. Credit: ukzambians.co.uk

A Lusaka high court has ruled that the trial of an activist, who spoke out in support of gay rights on television, should proceed, the Times of Zambia reports.

According to the report, Paul Kasonkomona, 38, is charged with idle and disorderly conduct for soliciting for immoral purposes.

Before his trial could proceed, Kasonkomona had applied to have his case heard in the high court on the grounds that his fundamental rights were being violated. He says the penal code provision under which he is charged is vague and violated his freedom-of-expression rights covered by Article 18 and 20 of the constitution.

But Judge Anne Sharpe Phiri dismissed the application.

“I am of the considered view that the subject contained under section 178 (g) of the Penal Code was not the same as that contained in Article 20 of the Constitution. The two issues are different,” she ruled. “I therefore find that there was no Constitutional issue concerning the contravention of fundamental rights of the accused and there was no ground for the magistrate to refer the case.”

Justice Phiri sent the case back to the magistrate’s court.

Gay Star News reports that two men, charged with committing offences “against the order of nature,” are also due to appear in court.

Philip Mubiana and James Mwape have been in custody since May 6.