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Gays press Mugabe

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The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) yesterday welcomed President Robert Mugabe’s renewed calls for peace but urged him to minority groups also enjoy the protection of the law.

Report by Nduduzo Tshuma

Mugabe in his Independence Day speech last week made an impassioned plea for peace ahead of elections he wants held in June.

He also ordered police to arrest all perpetrators of violence regardless of political party affiliation. In an open letter to the veteran ruler, Galz said its members lived in fear because of homophobic slurs that were common in Zimbabwe.

“We watched and listened to your Independence Day message, in which you spoke on the need for the country’s citizens and political leadership to shun violence and hate before, during and after elections,” read part of the statement.

“We represent a community that historically has been vilified, abused and dehumanised solely on the basis of an irrelevant personal characteristic.

“As a result our community lives in fear of violence and abuse because they have witnessed abuse or encountered violent homophobic slurs, physical violence and harassment.

Galz said it was encouraged by Mugabe’s calls for the police to arrest perpetrators of violence.

“We hope that the police will carry out their duties diligently and professionally,” the association said.

“We believe that the criminal justice system will not be used to target or harass our community and others working to defend equality and human rights for all.

“We hope that the system will understand that no group of people or individual is less deserving and worthy of equal protection of the law.

“The moment we say this, all minorities and all of society will undoubtedly be demeaned,” Galz added.

“We hope that Zimbabweans will respect your call to shun and condemn all forms of violence discrimination and hate including that which relates to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.”

On Independence Day, the organisation said it remained on course in its quest to achieving equality “for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities (LGBTI).

“We are concerned that the state continues to vilify our kind and actively violates and harasses our kin,” Galz said in another statement.

“As a result our community lives in fear of violence and abuse because they have witnessed abuse or encountered violent homophobic slurs.

“The law facilitates harassment of LGBTI individuals because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Mugabe often uses public gatherings to attacks gays whom he once described as worse than dogs and pigs. Zanu PF also took a hardline stance against homosexuality during the constitution making exercise demanding that it must be criminalised.

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