By Venus N Msyan
President Joe Biden use of the last month election in Zambia among examples of how democracy lives in the world has left many Zambians excited but definitely not settled on gay rights.
In his words, president Biden said democratic world is everywhere. Adding to other examples, he said democratic world lives in the young people of Zambia who harnessed the power of their vote for the first time, turning out in record numbers to denounce corruption and chat a new path for their country.”
He said this on Tuesday 21st of September 2021 at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Immediately after the speech, Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema posted on his Facebook page to appreciate president Biden recognition of the role that Zambia youth played in upholding and defending democracy in Zambia.
“We welcome President Biden’s recognition of the role that Zambia’s youth played in upholding and defending democracy in our country,” new Zambian president Hichilema posted.
“We echo these words, and look forward to productive conversations with President Biden’s administration while we are here in the United States,” president Hakainde added after quoting Biden’s statement on Zambia youth.
Though he didn’t mention Zambia, president Biden statement that we all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear, whether it’s Chechnya or Cameroon or anywhere is another statement in his speech that directly points to Zambia.
The 15-year sentence of gay couple by the previous administration that led to the departure of former US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote proved to the world that Zambia is not ready for gay rights. There is not doubt president Biden had that in mind as he was addressing the 76th UN General Assembly.
Highlighting productive conversations on HH reaction to Biden speech, it gives hope that the world may experience a different Zambia when it comes to human rights. Gay rights in particular.
But what the world needs to know is that Zambians see LGBTQ issue differently. Some see it as a religious issue, others see it as a cultural issue, while very few others see it as a human rights issue.
To be specific, majority of Zambians don’t see LGBTQ rights as a human rights issue but religious and cultural issue.
President Hakainde may choose to approach gay rights as a human rights issue. The problem is, if he does, he will be acting in the opposite direction. Majority of Zambians believe gay rights is a religious issue or cultural issue.
“We are a Christian Nation and that remains on the books. If this government at any one time wants gay rights, you will be the first to know but we are a Christian Nation, we continue to be who we are.”
Vice-president Mutale Nalumango said while answering a question on gay rights in parliament. An implication that though there may be few UPND members who see gay rights as human rights issue, in general UPND believe LGBTQ rights is a religious issue.
There is no doubt the Biden administration see GLBTQ rights as a human rights issue. In short, to have a productive conversation on the issue with Biden administration one need see the issue in the same way.
HH administration see gay rights different, hence president Joe Biden call for LGBTQ rights has just set a hot button for the new Zambian administration.