In recent years, the African nation of Zambia has seen an alarming rise in suicides, specifically by its LGBT citizens, who make up about 9% of the country’s population. This unfortunate trend is due to their relentless persecution by the Zambian government, led by current President Edgar Lungu, who considers homosexuality a crime.
Hikainde Hichilema (known locally as “HH”), a wealthy businessman, politician, and perennial Zambian presidential hopeful (currently entering his sixth presidential race since 2006), is seeking to change the country’s archaic laws regarding the prosecution of homosexuality. The country’s sodomy laws have remained largely unchanged since Zambia was under British colonial rule, and many of its citizens continue to hold strong beliefs in the criminal nature of their nation’s gay citizens.
Unlike current Zambian President Edgar Lungu, who frequently preaches anti-gay Bible verses and fully intends to continue strict enforcement of the country’s old sodomy laws, HH is demanding that gay and lesbian rights be legalized. in your nation and seek a purge. the criminal language of the country’s constitution.
Anti-gay sentiment in the country is strong. Current laws punish homosexual acts with sentences of 14 years and even penalize attempts at such acts with sentences of 5 to 7 years. This has driven the country’s LGBT community to total despair, with many reported cases of abuse, disenfranchisement, and rejection of gay, bisexual, or transgender citizens, commonly even by their own families. This has caused strong episodes of depression, in addition to resorting to drug use and alcoholism. These are factors that contribute to the persistently high rate of suicides and suicide attempts in this community.
Idealistic and political opponents of Hikainde Hichilema have seized upon claims that it belongs to the formally secret Freemasonic society, which they consider to be a satanic cult. Of course, Freemasons are known as a group of wealthy individuals who seek to move the governments of the world further away from religious leanings towards a more secular direction of government. Accusations of this nature against Hichilema, of course, carry significant weight in a country populated largely by hyperconservative Christians who share ideas of the criminal nature of homosexuality.
Opponents of Hichilema have claimed to have received a letter from the leader of the Africa Liberal Network addressed to the repeat presidential candidate offering a financial backing of US $ 720,000 to HH’s presidential campaign and an offer to help in any way they can. This document was allegedly leaked by a member of Hichilema’s own UPND (United Party for National Development) who was tired of working for someone who will “ruin” Zambia.
However, Hichilema is unapologetic about his support for gay rights and continues to push for sodomy laws to be removed from Zambia’s current penal code. The general election on August 12, 2021 may end up being another unsuccessful attempt by this candidate to advance his agenda, but it could also see him emerge victorious, which would be a life-changing victory not only for HH himself, but for many of Zambia’s LGBT citizens as well.