The U.S. State Department has recalled its ambassador to Zambia after he spoke out in support of a gay male couple.

U.S Ambassador Daniel Foote spoke out against a 15-year prison sentence given to the couple under Zambia's colonial-era law that prohibits gay sex. According to local media reports, the couple was caught having sex in a lodge in the town of Kapiri Mposhi.

Foote said that he was “horrified” by the sentence and criticized corruption in the nation.

“I was personally horrified to read yesterday about the sentencing of two men, who had a consensual relationship, which hurt absolutely no one, to 15 years imprisonment for ‘crimes against the order of nature,'” said Foote. “Meanwhile, government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution, political cadres can beat innocent citizens for expressing their opinions with no consequences, or poachers/traffickers can kill numerous elephants, barbarically chainsaw and sell their tusks and face a maximum of only five years imprisonment in Zambia.”

“Decisions like this oppressive sentencing do untold damage to Zambia’s international reputation by demonstrating that human rights in Zambia is not a universal guarantee,” Foote continued. “They perpetuate persecution against disenfranchised groups and minorities, such as people from other tribes or political affiliations, albinos, the disabled, our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters, and everyone who is deemed ‘different.'”

The Zambia government criticized Foote's harsh comments.

Foote said that he was shocked by the “hate” directed at him over his support for the gay couple.

“I was shocked at the venom and hate directed at me and my country, largely in the name of 'Christian' values, by a small minority of Zambians,” Foote said in a statement. “I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that Christianity meant trying to live like our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am not qualified to sermonize, but I cannot imagine Jesus would have used bestiality comparisons or referred to his fellow human beings as 'dogs' or 'worse than animals;' allusions made repeatedly by your countrymen and women about homosexuals.”

Foote also said that he had received death threats.

Zambia is among the more than 70 nations where consensual gay sex is criminalized.