News December 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

U.S. withdraws ambassador from Zambia after row over treatment meted out to gay men

Nii Ntreh December 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

December 24, 2019 at 10:30 am | News

Former US chief envoy to Zambia (left) Daniel Foote and Zambia president, Edgar Lungu. Photo Credit: Nairaland.com

The United States has pulled out its ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote, after Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, said he could no longer work with him following clash over gay rights in Zambia.

VOA News quoted a State Department spokesperson who said, “Despite this action, the United States remains committed to our partnership with the Zambian people.”

Foote had criticized Zambia’s government over the imprisonment of a gay couple for having sex.

A Zambian court slapped a 15-year sentence on the couple in a decision that described homosexual sex as “against the order of nature.” But Foote had said he was horrified by this.

After a number of Zambian citizens and authorities had pushed back against what they felt was interference in local politics, Foote responded that all they wanted was diplomats “with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”

Zambia is one of many African countries with severe laws aimed at clamping down on homosexuality. Some of the laws were bequeathed by British colonial administration.

But in withdrawing its ambassador, the US added that it “firmly opposes abuses against LGBTI persons.”

The State Department’s statement also stated that “Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.”

Out of the 54 African countries, only nine have decriminalized homosexual sex. In Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Mauritania, it is punishable by death.

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