zambian_website_engdangers_gay_activistsA Zambian LGBT rights group has accused a news website of inciting anti-gay sentiment through a homophobic and inaccurate article.

Last week, claimed that three Zambian human rights defenders had travelled to Sweden to raise money to “implement their projects and activities in Zambia of promoting gay rights”.

The article also alleged that activists use funds raised abroad to “lure” young people into homosexuality, that a police investigation is underway and that the three activists will be charged upon their return to Zambia.

It further showed a photograph of two of the activists and named them, which could put their safety in danger when they return home.

The article was met with a flood of anti-gay comments calling for the activists’ immediate arrest at the airport and describing them as “sick” and as “satanists”. One individual wrote: “I am forming a militia to hunt down all Gay rights filthy animals!”

LGBT rights organisation, Friends of RAINKA commented in a statement that “the allegations reported by are blatantly false”.

It said that the activists in Stockholm are attending a workshop on policy and advocacy and that “none of the named human rights defenders at any point during this workshop have solicited for funds to promote gay rights in Zambia”.

The group went on to say that it has never “promoted homosexuality or lured individuals into practicing homosexuality” but that it recognises “the existence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) Zambians and works with stakeholders to secure their protection and ensure that their fundamental human rights are upheld”.

It accused the website of “false claims and careless journalism” and said that by exposing the identities of the Zambian human rights defenders and misrepresenting their mission, “has relinquished all credibility of responsible journalism”.

The organisation added: “As can be seen by the comments section accompanying the article, the report published on October 24th, 2013 is a veiled incitement to violence that opens the human rights defenders and the LGBTI community to harm.”

Last week’s article comes in the midst of recent actions against members of the LGBT community in Zambia.

Two alleged gay men were arrested almost six months ago and have been charged with homosexuality. They face up to 14 years in jail if found guilty and have been refused bail despite their trial being repeatedly delayed.

Human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona is also on trial for having called on national television for the rights of LGBT people to be respected.

Activists say that they are increasingly fearful as they document increasing harassment and attacks against members of the LGBT community in the country.

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