The Zambian LGBT and HIV activist who was arrested for backing gay and lesbian rights on television has denied the charge against him in court.
On Sunday, Paul Kasonkomona spoke on live Zambian TV apparently in support of same-sex marriage and LGBT equality. He was arrested by police minutes later when he tried to leave the MUVI TV studios in Lusaka.
He was charged with “soliciting in a public place for an immoral purpose” and was detained for more than three days.
On Thursday, Kasonkomona (38) finally appeared in court and, according to AFP, told the judge: “I deny the charge, your honour.”
He was granted bail of 5,000 kwacha ($930) and ordered to appear in court for the start of his trial on 15 May. He could face up to a month in jail if found guilty.
According to Zambia Reports, Kasonkomona has filed a suit against the government in the Lusaka high court for unlawful detention.
His lawyers are suing for damages on the basis of false imprisonment and for resulting mental distress and injury.
The suit also claims that Kasonkomona, who is HIV positive, was denied his tuberculosis and ARV medication by police, thereby endangering his life.
Consensual adult same-sex acts are criminalised in Zambia. Offences such as sodomy, or sex between women, carry a minimum sentence of 15 years or a maximum of life in prison. Attempts to have sex without being successful are punishable by a minimum sentence of seven years or a maximum of 14 years jail time.
These laws were codified in the Zambian Penal Code during the British Colonial period and “updated” in 2005.