November 5, 2015 at 10:04 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Transgender woman in Zambia convicted of sodomy

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A Zambian court last week reportedly convicted a transgender woman of sodomy. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A report indicates that a transgender woman in Zambia faces 15 years in prison after a judge found her guilty of sodomy.

The Zambia Daily Mail, a Zambian newspaper, reported on Oct. 31 that Magistrate Derrick Mate Chingumbe convicted the trans woman in a court in the country’s Mongu District.

The newspaper, which identified the trans woman as a 27-year-old hairdresser, reported the alleged incident took place on Sept. 24.

A 19-year-old taxi driver told the court that he met the defendant at a local bar.

The Zambia Daily Mail reported the meeting between the plaintiff and the trans woman was “love at first sight.” The taxi driver also told the court that the defendant was dressed as a woman when they met.

The Zambia Daily Mail — which described the trans woman as a “fake woman” in its headline and referred to her by her birth name and used male pronouns to describe her in its article — said the taxi driver told the court that she “deceived” him. The plaintiff testified that the trans woman asked him to turn off the lights before they had anal sex.

Chingumbe before convicting the trans woman cited a report from a local hospital that indicated she had what the Zambia Daily Mail described as a “tear around his anal area.”

“I have concluded that Bril [the last name of the trans woman] did actually permit the taxi driver to have carnal knowledge of him,” said Chingumbe, according to the Zambia Daily Mail. “In fact, he was made to believe that he was actually going to sleep with a woman and a woman only because of the way he [the trans woman] was dressed, and he [the trans woman] had long hair.”

The Zambia Daily Mail reported that Chingumbe granted the trans woman bail and said she could appeal the verdict to the Zambian High Court.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday told the Washington Blade during his daily press briefing that he had not seen the report of the trans woman’s conviction.

“If it’s true, it would be deeply concerning to the United States,” he said.

The Zambian government did not immediately respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Zambia is a landlocked African country that borders Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Zambia is among the more than 70 countries around the world in which consensual same-sex sexual acts remain criminalized.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Peter Nkosi

    Going by the Zambian Penal Code, this prosecution of a single individual is not making sense to me because two were involved in the consensual act. According to the law both participants should be prosecuted together. (I have to emphasise here that my own opinion is that neither should be prosecuted!)

    Here are the relevant bits of the legislation, S155 of the Penal Code:

    Any person who-

    (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or

    (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; is guilty of a felony … ., (or commits a felony – I am not sure of the current wording)

    According to that, the trans woman can be prosecuted under sub-section (c), whereas the “plaintiff” can be prosecuted under (a).

    The plaintiff testified that the trans woman asked him to turn off the lights before they had anal sex.

    Is the “plaintiff “’s saying in his defence that in the dark he could not tell the difference between an anus and a vagina?

    The trans woman has been convicted in a magistrate’s court. If an appeal is launched, the High Court will come to a much more legally sensible decision.

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