Zambia

For a summary of Zambia’s review at the second cycle please click here.

2nd UPR session
Date of review: Friday, 9 May, 2008
Date of report adoption: 12 June, 2008
Document number: A/HRC/8/43

Summary

Recommendations made: to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults; to develop programmes to respond to the HIV/AIDS related needs of sexually active gay men; to strive to amend its Criminal Code to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults.

Status of recommendations: rejected.

I. Key issues/recommendations identified by NGOs

  • Note that, according to the Compilation of UN Information, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed concern that Zambia’s Penal Code criminalises consensual same-sex activity, contrary to the rights to privacy and non-discrimination in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee has further considered that such laws “run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention” by driving marginalised communities underground.[1]
  • Ask whether the government could indicate what steps it has taken to implement the recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee that such provisions be repealed? We recommend that Zambia’s Penal Code be amended to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults, in accordance with the 2007 recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee.
  • Further note that the National AIDS Control Program does not mention men who have sex with men.
  • Recommend that programs be developed to respond to the HIV-related needs of same-sex practicing men.

II. Excerpts from input reports
Compilation of UN information

II. PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ON THE GROUND
B. Implementation of international human rights obligations
4. Right to privacy, marriage and family life

18. In 2007, the HR Committee was concerned that the Penal Code criminalizes same-sex sexual activities between consenting adults and recommended Zambia to repeal such provision of the Penal Code.

Summary of stakeholder information

II. PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ON THE GROUND
A. Implementation of international human rights obligations

1. Equality and non discrimination

17. Global Rights and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (GR-IGLHRC) noted that the National AIDS Control Program fails to mention men who have sex with men and reported that there are no programs – government-sponsored or privately funded – that respond to the HIV-related needs of same-sex practicing men in Zambia.

4. Right to privacy, marriage and family life

27. As indicated by GR – IGLHRC sections 155-157 of the Zambian Penal Code criminalize any form of consensual same-sex conduct in private between consenting adults providing for the possibility of imprisonment from seven to fourteen years. Such provisions reinforce social stigma against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and expose them to the risk of deprivation of liberty, life, physical integrity and health. Similar observation was made by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in its joint submission.

5. Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly

29. GR – IGLHRC further noted that Zambians who have fought against discrimination related to sexual orientation or gender identity have been often silenced. When LGBT organizers appeared in the newspaper to announce their wishes to register the organization, government officials warned that any attempt to register the group or hold public meetings would be met with arrests.

III. References to SOGI during the Working Group review
Interactive dialogue and responses by the State under review

Canada – The Human Rights Committee expressed concern that Zambia’s Penal Code criminalizes consensual same-sex activity, contrary to right to privacy and non-discrimination in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee noted that such laws “run counter to the implementation of effective education programmes in respect of HIV/AIDS prevention” by driving marginalised communities underground. In addition, the National AIDS Control Program does not mention men who have sex with men. Canada recommends Zambia’s Penal Code be amended to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults and that Zambia develop programs to respond to the HIV/AIDS-related needs of sexually active gay men. Canada further recommends improved access to anti-retroviral treatment for vulnerable groups, including women, and would be grateful to learn of the efforts undertaken by Zambia in this regard.

Netherlands – As the delegation of Canada also pointed out, the Human Rights committee expressed concern that Zambia’s Penal Code criminalises consensual same-sex activity contrary to the right to privacy and non-discrimination in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. […] Is Zambia considering the reform of the Penal Code in this regard? We would like to recommend that Zambia will strive to amend this Penal Code to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults in accordance with the 2007 recommendation of the Human Rights Committee.

Response by Zambia – I think there are a number of questions which have come through which are common: issues relating to […] same-sex relationships. Maybe from the outset […], I would like to state that laws in any country are a reflection of the social-economic development of any country. Zambia, to be specific, has dealt with the issue of […] same-sex relationships, has consulted its people, and the people of Zambia are adverse to […] [this] to be legalized in Zambia. And we have mentioned […] that these issues hinge on the constitution and they have been referred to the NCC for deliberation.

Ireland – We would also like to thank the Zambian delegation for their comments in relation to the decriminalization of same-sex relationships between consenting adults. It is our opinion that the criminalization of such acts lead to unnecessary suffering for a significant number of men and women, and we would respectfully ask the Zambian government to continue to keep an open mind in relation to the decriminalization of such acts.

Slovakia – Another issue connected with freedom of association is mentioned in paragraph 29 of the report from other relevant stakeholders, where it is stated that one organization that has fought against discrimination related to sexual orientation or gender identity was warned by the government officials not to seek registration of their group. We would like to ask the delegation of Zambia to clarify this issue.

IV. Conclusions and/or recommendations
Zambia rejected the following recommendations:

19.(a) To decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults. (Canada)

19.(b) To develop programmes to respond to the HIV/AIDS related needs of sexually active gay men. (Canada)

22.(b) To strive to amend its Criminal Code to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults. (Netherlands)

V. Further information
UPR Documentation

National report 1A | C | E | F | R | S
Compilation of UN information 2A | C | E | F | R | S
Summary of stakeholders’ information 3A | C | E | F | R | S
Questions submitted in advance

Outcome of the review
Report of the Working group: A | C | E | F | R | S
Addendum 1: A | C | E | F | R | S
Decision on the outcome: E only
Report of the eight session of the Human Rights Council: A | C | E | FR | S
Related webcast archives

www.upr-info.org


[1] Toonen v Australia, CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992, April 4, 1994.