Zambian lawyer defends Faz gay clause

Landilani Banda
Landilani Banda wants Zambia's football fraternity to adopt international human rights standards

A human rights scholar and lawyer in Lusaka says the Football Association of Zambia should go ahead and include a non-discrimination clause in their constitution.

Faz is in the middle of a constitutional review process aimed at aligning its statutes with world governing body Fifa.

A draft constitution circulated by Faz to its members reads: "Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion."

Passing this constitutional change would seemingly put the football association at odds with the country's laws regarding homosexuality.

But that is exactly what Fifa wants as its own statutes prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and can suspend or expel offenders from football.

Predictably, the exercise has stirred a hornets' nest in Zambia - one of 35 African nations where homosexuality is illegal, according to human rights organisation Amnesty.

The overwhelmingly conservative population in Zambia continues to regard homosexuality as a 'sin', shameful and deserving of punishment.

But Landilani Banda, a lecturer at the University of Zambia, has told the BBC that there is no cause for alarm.

"The position is that the law in Zambia does not criminalise homosexuality. What the law criminalises is sodomy which is termed as 'offences against the order of nature.'

"Sodomy is when a person has sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex.

"In light of the above, it's perfectly alright for Faz to include a clause which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," said Banda.

"The Fifa position is in line with international human rights standards which prohibit discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation. Zambia should also be bound by these same standards."