The United States has recalled its ambassador to Zambia amid a diplomatic row after he criticised the imprisonment of a gay couple, embassy sources have said.
Daniel Foote had said last month he was “horrified” that a judge had sentenced the men to 15 years in prison after they were caught having sex in 2017.
The government accused him of trying to dictate policy, and President Edgar Lungu declared him persona non grata.
Zambia is a deeply conservative society where homosexual acts are illegal.
“You cannot ask a government to make a decision at gun point – ‘because we are giving you aid, we want you to do this’ – you can’t,” Zambia’s Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji said last week.
The US State Department has not confirm or deny that the ambassador had been withdrawn but said that it was “dismayed by the Zambian government’s statement that Ambassador Foote’s position ‘is no longer tenable’, which we consider to be the equivalent of a declaration that the Ambassador is persona non grata.”
Last month, a High Court in the capital, Lusaka, sentenced Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba to 15 years in jail.
The couple had booked into a lodge, and a worker peeped through an open window and saw them having sex, the court heard. (BBC)