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Zambian football association proposes gay non-discrimination policy

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Gay sex is illegal in Zambia.

Japan v Zambia - International Friendly
Homosexuality has been illegal in Zambia since, well, forever.
Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The Football Association of Zambia has put forward a proposal that would protect gay, lesbian and bisexual athletes in soccer from retaliation for their sexual orientation.

The move reportedly comes after FIFA has stepped up its fight against homophobia, including the fining of various countries for homophobic chants ringing through the soccer stadiums of various Latin American countries including, most notably, Mexico.

Yet homosexual activity has been illegal in Zambia for many decades. Due to the rampant and entrenched homophobia in the African nation, the news was not welcomed by many.

"Zambia is a Christian nation and any instructions from FIFA which will conflict with Christianity are not welcome," former Football Association of Zambia executive committee member Masha Chilemena told news agency AFP. "The FAZ cannot go against what is stipulated in the law of the land. If FIFA is to impose sanctions on Zambia, we will play in the local league."

To be clear, what Chilemena is saying is, “We mandate the authority to jail gay people and will risk our nation’s entire international soccer reputation on doing so.”

Sports has long been a battle ground for equality, from Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey integrating baseball to the banning of South Africa from the World Cup due to apartheid.

Soon organizations from “Christian” colleges in the United States to anti-gay nations in Africa will have to make a choice: Continue to push discrimination and lose the right to compete in sports, or make a change toward inclusion.