[Town Council]

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambian vice-president Christon Tembo said on Tuesday people championing the cause of homosexuals in the country risked being arrested.

Tembo told parliament that the government would not allow the formal registration of a recently-formed association for homosexuals.

``An association formed to further the interests of homosexuals can never be registered in Zambia,'' he told parliament.

``Those who will persist in championing the cause for homosexual activities in Zambia risk being arrested for the felonies of committing criminal acts or for conspiracy to commit criminal acts,''Tembo said.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to five years imprisonment in the southern African nation.

A group of Lusaka-based homosexuals last week defied a government ban on homosexual activity to hold their first public meeting.

The gays have formed what they call the Lesbian, Gays and Transgender Association (Legatra) to push for gay rights.

The association was formed with the support of the Zambia Independent Monitoring Team (ZIMT), a nongovernmental organization that promotes minority rights.

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