Hakainde Hichilema, also known as HH, aims to turn around the historically negative attitude toward the Zambian LGBT community. Currently, Zambia’s legal standing on same-sex relationships and orientation is antiquated and deeply rooted in the laws and beliefs from the bygone time when the country was still a colony of British rule.
The country’s laws, in terms of homosexuality, have remained basically the same, with same-sex relationships falling under the country’s sodomy laws which deem it a crime punishable by as much as 14 years in prison. The country’s penal code also classifies an attempt to practice homosexuality as committing “unnatural offenses”, which carries a 7-year prison sentence, and any “acts of gross indecency” between a person of male gender are punishable by up to 5 years.
As a wealthy businessman and Zambian politician, Hakainde Hichilema (HH) is looking to reverse course on the country’s legal views of homosexual relations, by promising to legalize homosexuality and even permit gay marriages in the country. A perennial presidential candidate, Hichilema has had 5 fruitless attempts at winning the presidency, but he continues to try, citing reversal on gay rights as a pillar issue of his platform.
As a member of the UPND party (United Party of National Development), Hichilema promises that if elected president, he will work to expedite not only the reversal of anti-gay legislation in the country’s criminal code, he will promote the development of gay rights and even support the funding of sex change operations for the country’s citizens who wish to have them.
The opposition, traditional to what is viewed as the country’s Christian principles has accused Hichilema of being registered as a Freemason, citing his name as a verifiable mention on the member’s list. The Freemasons, a formally secret society of wealthy elites, are largely regarded as part of a movement that aims to suppress the Christian principles in favor of a more secular regime in the country.
In addition to deleting constitutional language against homosexuality, Hakainde intends to institute full rights to gay Zambians (which constitute an estimated 9% of the country’s population) and celebrate them with national parades in every major Zambian city, the political opposition claims.
A recently leaked letter from a UPND source shows that a financial incentive to the tune of $720,000 US dollars has been offered in support of presidential contention efforts from the President of the Africa Liberal Network, Maitre Gilbert Noel Ouedraogo. This organization has a deeply held belief about reversing African views and laws on homosexuality.
To many, this type of move is considered an offense to the country’s religious backing. To Hakainde and his supporters, the view of frightening high suicide and attempted suicide rates is enough to justify reversing course on a set of laws in a country that has historically been observant of old Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality, its permanence, promotion, and its legal approach to it.