THE Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) has called on authorities to abandon former President Robert Mugabe’s politics of discrimination, hatred and intolerance of its members, saying they equally deserve respect and protection under the present administration.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Mugabe was a fervent critic of homosexuals, and was known for making homophobic statements over the years.
In July 2013, Mugabe criticised South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu for supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights saying: “Never, never, never will we support homosexuality in Zimbabwe.”
In a statement to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), Galz regional co-ordinator Tadios Munyimani expressed concern that the LGBTI community continued to face rights violations such as physical assault, hate speech, intimidation, torture and raids from both State and non-State actors.
“These violations have adverse effects on LGBTI individuals in society where they endure stigma, shaming, social and economic exclusion amongst other social ills and usually suffer in silence and remain in the closet,” he said.
“As Galz, we realise that there needs to be a fundamental change in Zimbabwe’s political culture. The building of this new political culture requires determined leadership, leaders who direct their constituents away from the past politics of discrimination and intolerance, leaders who reject attempts to gain votes through hate speech and cheap populism by inciting and exacerbating prejudice against those who are different.”
IDAHOT is celebrated annually on May 17 and aims to raise awareness of LGBTI rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBTI rights work. The global theme for the 2018 commemorations is Alliances for Solidarity.
“Galz believes that leaders in Zimbabwe, whether politicians, members of civil society or church leaders, have a duty to lead Zimbabwe towards a new and democratic order. A fully democratic order is one that abandons the politics of hatred and intolerance, it is one that abandons unfair discrimination against any group, regardless of how popular or unpopular the group may be in society,” Munyimani said.
The Constitution guarantees rights such as equality and non-discrimination, but is silent on specific rights for the LGBTI community. Zimbabwe criminalises same-sex relations.