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Newsline: State Department defends US ambassador to Zambia

The State Department defended U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote after the country’s president said he should leave over his defense of a gay couple sentenced to 15 years in prison under a colonial-era sodomy law. Media reports indicate Edgar Lungu told ZNBC TV, a government-owned television station, his administration has “complained officially to the American government.” “We are waiting for their response because we don’t want such people in our midst,” said Lungu, referring to Foote. “We want him gone.” (https://www.washingtonblade.com/2019/12/19/state-department-defends-us-ambassador-to-zambia/) Foote late last month publicly criticized the sentencing of the two men who were convicted of “crimes against the order of nature.” Foote later said “threats made against me” prompted him to not attend World AIDS Day events. “We are 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,” a State Department official told the Washington Blade in a statement. “Despite this action, the United States remains committed to our partnership with the Zambian people.” Zambia is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. The Trump administration earlier this year announced U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell would lead an initiative that encourages nations to decriminalize homosexuality.

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