GALZ hopeful Zim will change heart

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BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

THE Gays and Lesbian Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has welcomed a recent ruling by a Botswana court to decriminalise homosexuality stating that it gave them comfort that the country will one day follow suit and allow same sex relations.

The Botswana High Court in June this year struck down some sections that criminalised homosexuality.

Botswana joined South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Lesotho in decriminalising homosexuality. South Africa became a first in the continent in 1998 to
decriminalise homosexuality.

GALZ director Chester Samba said the ruling by the Botswana High Court gave them hope that Zimbabwe’s government ‘de-politicisation’ of their community will
eventually lead to decriminalisation of same sex relations.

“It was a historical decision that we hail as a positive and progressive stance taken by the courts to restore dignity to the Lesbian Gender Bisexual
Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people whose privacy and dignity has been eroded by these colonial laws.

“Currently 11 countries in sub Saharan Africa have laws that protect private, same sexual relations and we are hopeful that these colonial laws will be struck
off many statutes,” Samba said in an interview.

In May, Kenya upheld a law that criminalises same-sex relations, with a three-judge bench ruling the colonial-era legislation did not contradict the
Constitution. Tanzania last year appointed a task force to enforce its laws against same-sex relations.

Zimbabwe criminalises same-sex relations. The Constitution guarantees rights such as equality and non-discrimination, but is silent on specific rights for the
LGBTI community.

Former President Robert Mugabe was a fierce critic of homosexuals and was known for making homophobic and insulting statements over the years.

In a first, authorities allowed the LGBTI community and sex workers to exhibit at the 2018 Zimbabwe International Trade Fair held in Bulawayo in April. Under
Mugabe, it was unthinkable.