Cathedral of the Holy Cross – Lusaka (Pic: Facebook)
A woman thought to be a member of the LGBTI community was thrown out of a church and publicly degraded in Zambia after police officers conducted an invasive body search.
According to Zambian Watchdog, the well-dressed woman, who appears to be known in the community, attended a service at the Anglican Cathedral of Holy Cross in Lusaka on Sunday.
As the gathering was the 10th memorial service for the late President Levy Mwanawasa, the attendees included current President Edgar Lungu, politicians and a heavy security presence.
All was well until a policeman expressed his romantic interest in the woman to a colleague. He was reportedly told that the woman in question “was in fact a man”.
The outraged officer and his colleagues then entered the church and pulled the woman out. She was “searched” in order to confirm that she “has a male organ”. The woman’s dress was confiscated and she was ordered to leave the premises wearing black shorts and a t-shirt.
To add to her ordeal, photographs of the woman were taken and published by the publication. Labelled “before” and “after”, they show the well-appointed individual arriving at the church, confidently smiling and dressed in heels, a yellow and blue dress and a blue turban. The latter image shows her cowering in her stripped-down clothes as she is watched by an officer.
Mambaonline has chosen to not name the woman or to include a link to the offensive article so as to avoid imposing any additional humiliation on her.
The LGBTI community has few legal protections in Zambia. The penal code prohibits same-sex sexual activity and individuals who have been convicted can face imprisonment of up to 14 years. This prohibition could be applied to transgender or intersex individuals whose correct gender identity is not recognised by the state.
Earlier this month, two men were convicted of homosexuality after being forced to undergo an anal examination for “evidence” of sexual activity.