Lesbians, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) people are subjected to many egregious instances of discrimination, stigma, and violence in Zambia. Zambia gained independence from Britain in 1964, and yet, some of its colonial-era laws govern LBTI people.
Section 155 of the Penal Code Act of 1995 criminalises sexual conduct that is against the order of nature, which means sexual conduct that is not between a man and a woman. This includes acts in both public and private spheres, between consenting adults (male and female). Section 157 of the Penal Code explicitly targets consensual same-sex sexual acts with the provision that criminalises “indecent practices between males”.
There is no explicit legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Zambian Constitution, and Zambia does not have an explicit framework for the protection of transgender and intersex people. The Zambian government does not permit advocacy of LBTI rights, however freedom of expression has been affirmed by the courts in the People v. Paul Kasonkomona case.
The last submitted State party report was in 2011 and contained no information on LBTI constituencies. There have been reports of a lot of violence against LBTI people in Zambia in 2022. In 2020 September, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Jack Mwimbu announced that there had been 18 arrests of LGBT people for same-sex activity in 2022, with half a dozen more cases under investigation. One case had resulted in conviction with a sentence of seven years imprisonment with hard labour.
The CEDAW Committee did not provide any SOGIESC-focused recommendations to Zambia in 2011. The List of Issues also did not include LBTI-inclusive questions.
The Committee provided a few general observations that may be applicable to LBTI people:
(a) to strengthen the capacity and resources of existing shelters for victims of trafficking and improve access to victim protection services, including counselling and legal services, for victims of trafficking, and take measures to protect vulnerable groups from trafficking;
(b) to pursue a comprehensive approach in addressing the question of “prostitution”, including the provision of shelters and others services such as exit or reintegration programmes for “women who wish to leave prostitution”;
(c) to provide access to free prevention, treatment and care, and support services to women living with HIV/AIDS;
(d) to take steps to investigate, prosecute and punish all perpetrators of violence against women refugees;
(e) to put in place, without delay, a comprehensive strategy to eliminate violence against women and harmful practices, and criminalise the practice of sexual cleansing.