Thursday, February 18, 2010

NCC to adopt clause that forbids same sex marriage

NCC to adopt clause that forbids same sex marriage
By Ernest Chanda
Thu 18 Feb. 2010, 09:40 CAT

THE National Constitutional Conference (NCC) unanimously agreed to adopt a clause that expressly forbids marriage between people of the same sex. And the NCC has provided for paternal leave in the new constitution.

This is according to a clause introduced by the Human Rights committee of the NCC as an addition to the Mung’omba draft constitution which proposed in Article 47 (3) that “A person who is eighteen years of age or older has the right to freely choose a spouse of the opposite sex and marry.”

The committee added clause 5 to read that: “Marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited.”

At first, NCC chairperson Chifumu Banda wanted to suppress debate by suggesting that clause 3 had already taken care of clause 5.

But several delegates rose in defence of the clause and demanded that it be maintained to show clarity.

Commissioner Mwenda Lishebo annoyed Banda when he indicated in his debate that, “Chairperson I will disappoint you on this one. I think the committee beats you on this one, though I don’t intend to disappoint you.”

In his reaction, Banda urged Lishebo not to take things personal, saying he was only trying to guide the conference.

And defending the clause, Medical Association of Zambia representative Dr Antonette Phiri argued that it was important to have a law that was very clear on same sex marriage.

“We don’t want to leave this issue to interpretation somewhere else, we should adopt the clause as clearly as it is. We don’t want a situation where we have a law that is not clear about such serious issues, it must come out categorically clear that same sex marriage is forbidden. And this is the only chance we have to keep such a progressive clause,” debated Dr Phiri.

Southern Province minister Daniel Munkombwe caused laughter when he emotionally argued that even animals did not go for those of the same sex.

The visibly emotional Munkombwe wondered why human beings could lower themselves to a level below animals if animals went for the opposite sex.

[This makes no sense. If animals would not engage in homosexuality, how could people lower themselves to the level of animals by having gay sex? All the more reason why civil liberties should not be left to a committee to decide. And by the way, homosexuality does occur in nature, see "Male penguins raise adopted chick" (BBC). - MrK]

And foreign affairs minister Kabinga Pande supported the clause, saying events around the world should be a wake-up call for Zambia to be clear on such issues.

“I think let’s adopt this clause in view of what’s happening in the world. We have people in some other countries that think that same sex marriage is a right. If we are not clear on this one, the same situation could come down to this country some day. It’s a very progressive clause that I urge all to support,” debated Pande.

And the NCC has resolved that husbands should take leave whenever their wives delivered.
MMD chairperson for lands Judith Kapijimpanga defended the clause, saying the system was in fact already working in the civil service.

“I would like to take my heart off to the committee. This is actually already in force in the public service. Currently, a man is given five days off immediately the wife delivers. This is a progressive clause that we should adopt without hesitation,” debated Kapijimpanga.

The clause was supported by, among others, lands deputy minister Michael Mabenga and Northmead Assemblies of God church Bishop Joshua Banda.

But Chiengi MMD member of parliament Katele Kalumba opposed the clause, saying the concept was alien to the Zambian scenario.```````

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