Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
It's been a long time coming but the Human Rights Commission in Zambia has finally decided that it will ignore the rantings of the opposition parties and churches and speak out against the discrimination of people on the basis of sexual orientation.
The very welcome about turn follows a statement by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who called for respect for sexual orientation - a position that sadly few Zambians have held until now. The chairperson, Pixie Yangailo, did not go as far as to crticise the law banning sexual activity between people of the same sex but she did take a major step forward by saying, “The Zambian Constitution guarantees equality and if the right to education or health is being denied based on sexual orientation, the Commission will speak against that because no law in Zambia allows that." Before adding that sensitisation was important because “Many people are arguing from a point of ignorance.
Sexual orientation has different categories, there are people who are transgender, lesbians, bisexuals and this is all alien for Zambians." Needless to say, her comments and the remarks by the UNSG were met by a torrent of anti-LGBTI attacks within Zambia. But at least there will be one important human rights voice speaking out against discrimination in future. It's not much but it's a lot better than nothing.