What are you expecting from the Rome theological conference “The ways of Love”? Interview with David Musonda (Dette Resource Foundation, Zambia)

By Silvia Lanzi (Progetto Gionata)
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From Africa to Italy. On October 3rd, David Mosunda will be among the speakers of “The way of Love”. In order to know better his foundation, its activities and its goals I asked David to answer the questions I prepared for him.

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What is Dette Resource Foundation?

Dette Resources Foundation (DRF) is a Christian nongovernmental organization whose vision is “To have a society where human rights for all are respected regardless of social economic status, political affiliation, race, sex, cultural differences and religious affiliation. To achieve this, specific objectives are being pursued in order to realize the mission. DRF does this through promoting collaboration amongst religious, civil society and national institutions that pursue similar mission and objectives as DRF”

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Does it deal with civil rights in general perspective? Or just with LGBT People rights? Is it a lay non-profit organization, isn’t it?

The declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation and subsequent inclusion of the same in the preamble of the Zambian constitution makes Dette Resources Foundation a Christian Nongovernmental organization examine critically the Christians responses to social issues affecting society.
Dette Resources Foundation looks at the biblical principle of love, Christian roles and the marginalized people in society. Christianity and human sexuality and a call to a paradigm shift for all professing Christians towards LGBTIs. Dette Resources Foundation believes that the LGBTIs need love and protection from all Human races. DRF is equally involved in humanity activities at the Zambians biggest hospital which is the University of Zambia and in the community.

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Tell us about the situation of LGBT People in Africa!

In Africa, Zambia is amongst the 38 countries which have outlawed homosexuality. The Ugandan anti-gay law has contributed to the debates in entire continent of Africa and has influenced the Christians to pray and protect the values and cultures in the continent from alleged western forces.
Zambia is declared a Christian nation in the preamble of the constitution. The criminal procedures and the penal code in the Zambian constitution disadvantage the marginalized people. Section 155 and 158 of the penal code and the criminal procedure respectively criminalizes unnatural offences or sodomy in Zambia which was enacted in 1931, with imprisonment of up to 14 years and 7 year respectively.
Some sectors of society have argued that this is vague and has called on the government to come up with clear stiffer punishment and make its stance public. This is the call from most of the countries in Africa.
The Zambia Law Development Commission has initiated comprehensive review processes of the penal code chapter 87 and the criminal procedure code chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia. The impetus for our advocacy is the recognition of overwhelming emotional violence and religious persecution of LGBTI people in Africa and the interpretation of Sodom and Gomorra by some Televangelists and other sectors of Christian groupings that has remained negative towards LGBTI.

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Why has a lay non-profit organization decided to join a theological conference?

Dette Resources Foundation believe and know that the Church has influence to change the governance systems, hence the need to involve Churches in sharping the paradigm shift of how society views LGBTIs. In addressing this problem, they is need to train religious leaders to advocate against hate in reduction of stigma and intersectional discrimination through lobbing the government for inclusivity.
In Zambia, some leaders both political and religious are actively promoting hate for sexual minorities. The role of trained church leaders is to diffuse hate speeches against LGBTIs and also to influence political players to be inclusive in their engagement.
In Zambia there are no transparent services for LGBTI. This is an issue that needs to be looked at with clear cut inclusion of all Human rights faces. The initial negative reaction towards the issue of HIV pandemic in Zambia was received with hostility. Society had a judgemental mentality towards people that were infected with the scourge and their family members.
It lowered the dignity and self-worthy for People Living with HIV which resulted in people being in denial and hiding their status. The reaction towards LGBTI’s has not been of help and is similar to the HIV scourge as at that time.
There is need for a paradigm shift for Africa and especially professing Christians. We need to start seeing people from a human point of view whose rights were given by God, there is need to move away from looking at LGBTIs from a moralist point of view. Every person can be an asset to society when they are loved; a case in point is the transformation of some People living with HIV from living in denial to responsible assets in fighting against the pandemic. The LGBTI’s need love, understanding and protection as people loved by God.
The LGBTIs are often denied the right to equal access to employment and other economical factors upon mere suspicion. Groups of people who are perceived as being different are discriminated, stigmatized and mistreated.

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What are you expecting from the Rome theological conference?

Dette Resources Foundation is eager and willing to participate and learn from the wisdom which will be shared from the conference and use the information to Build solidarity amongst individuals of faith, promote dialogue, respect and affirm diversity within various contexts and achieve common goals of equality, spirituality and justice.

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