Zambia’s Football Association And Church Leaders Clash Over LGBT Rights

The argument currently polarizing Zambia can be put in these simple terms; should people be stopped from participating in sports because of sexual orientation or not?

Zambia’s football association believes that they should not but an outcry by citizens is decrying it as a death to morality in the country.

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Authorities of Zambia’s football association submitted a proposal to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians and kicked up a storm of opposition as the subject of homosexuality was brought to the forefront.

Homosexuality is illegal in the country whose constitution bans; “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature”. It is viewed as being an immoral act, but the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) in keeping with regulations from the world football governing body, FIFA, drafted a new constitution that included a clause which banned discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Zambia's Football Association

Zambian church leaders and some senior figures in Zambian football were quick to attack the proposal, insisting that it undermined the conservative Christian outlook of the country which are enshrined in the national constitution.

A former FAZ executive committee member, Masha Chilemena, spoke to AFP, telling them that;

“Zambia is a Christian nation and any instructions from FIFA which will conflict with Christianity are not welcome,”

“The FAZ cannot go against what is stipulated in the law of the land.”

“If FIFA is to impose sanctions on Zambia, we will play in the local league.”

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The President of the International Federation of Christian Churches (IFCC), Simon Chihana, also told AFP that FAZ agreeing to a clause banning discrimination against gays would be tantamount to “inviting the wrath of God”.

“We are a blessed nation and we cannot allow an individual or institution to bring the happenings of Sodom and Gomorrah here,”

The general secretary of Zambia’s football association was quick to reassure the country that they would ensure that the new constitution was not against Zambian law. He said that the constitution was still in draft stage and that “When it is finalised, it will reflect the laws of the country and the law of football so that there will be no conflict between the two.”