‘No gay rights in new charter’

Homosexuality will not be recognised in the new charter being drafted for Zimbabwe, a development set to raise the ire of gays and lesbians, who for ages have fought spirited battles with authorities for recognition.

The issue of gay rights has been contentious in the drafting of the new constitution, with the former ruling party Zanu PF openly opposing it and declaring it would never see the light of day as it was taboo in African culture.

But Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) director Chesterfield Samba said: “Firstly, Galz is in no way advocating for same-sex marriage in its submission to Copac.

It is unfortunate that there are some who are suggesting this without reading the Galz submission. The inclusion or otherwise of sexual orientation rights in Zimbabwe’s new constitution will be a litmus test for the constitution makers.

“It will reveal whether there is a determination to draw a constitution which will comply with Zimbabwe’s obligations and undertakings in International Law and the norms of human rights.

It will also reveal whether it will comply with the democratic requirement of an acceptance of difference, seek to build a non-stigmatising society which embraces all its constituents, or whether it will be merely an expression of subservience to those who wield political power.”

Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) said the select committee had resolved not to recognise gays and lesbians in the new constitution.

“We have sat down as the select committee and finalised some of the outstanding issues that were parked, like freedom of choice and discrimination of people on grounds of sexual orientation,” he said.

“We (three political parties) resolved homosexuality is not going to be recognised at law, but the issue we are still discussing is discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.”

Mwonzora said while homosexuality was not going to be recognised, gays would not be discriminated against.

“The issue of discrimination is important to look at. For example, if a person known as a homosexual applied for a job, can he be discriminated against because of his/her sexual orientation?

We are saying discrimination on the basis of one being gay should not be condoned and as Copac we are still to discuss that issue,” he said.
MDC Copac co-chairperson, Edward Mkhosi concurred with Mwonzora’s assertions.

“That is our position as Copac and even reports that came out of the constitution outreach process were obvious that people did not want homosexuality to be part of the rights enshrined in the new constitution. And we are going to go by what people said,” Mkhosi said.

However, Zanu PF Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana declined to comment, saying: “I do not know about that issue because the draft constitution is not yet out.

Until such a time that we produce a draft, I will not give piecemeal information on single constitutional issues. And I am unwilling to comment until the draft has been produced.”

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