Zambia’s president Edgar Chagwa Lungu has pardoned a gay couple who were sentenced to 15 years in prison in November 2019.
Reuters reports: “Japhet Chataba, 39, and Steven Sambo, 31, were among nearly 3,000 inmates pardoned by President Edgar Lungu last Friday to commemorate Africa Freedom Day, according to the government gazette. A Lusaka High Court judge had sentenced them to 15 years in prison under laws that forbid sex between couples ‘against the order of nature’.'”
You may recall that Daniel Foote, the U.S. ambassador to Zambia, was recalled after criticizing the sentence.
Voice of America reported: “A State Department spokesperson said Ambassador Daniel Foote’s job in Zambia is ‘no longer tenable’ because Zambian President Edgar Lungu said he no longer wants to work with Foote.”
Said the spokesperson: “Despite this action, the United States remains committed to our partnership with the Zambian people. [The U.S.] firmly opposes abuses against LGBTI persons. Governments have an obligation to ensure that all people can freely enjoy the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled.”
Said Foote of the ruling: “I was personally horrified to read yesterday about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no one, to 15 years imprisonment. Decisions like this oppressive sentencing do untold damage to Zambia’s international reputation by demonstrating that human rights in Zambia are not a universal guarantee.”