Zimbabwe: Anti-Gay Rhetoric Escalates

Official harassment against lesbians and gay men in Zimbabwe has widened to include virulent attacks on the floor of Parliament.

A series of parliamentary debates in the last few months on "the evil and iniquitous practice of homosexualism and lesbianism" have provided a forum for anti-gay speeches by a number of legislators from the ruling ZANU PF party. These speeches follow recent anti-gay statements by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (see below). Mugabe has in the past called homosexuality "a white problem" and government officials have threatened to arrest gays and lesbians.

In the face of protests from foreign governments, human rights organizations, and individuals around the world, members of Parliament have taken to the floor to voice their support for Mugabe and for the government's stated policy of denying gays and lesbians their basic human rights. On 28 September, Mr. Mutyambiz declared, "I would like to call for all traditional forces in this country to rally behind the State President in the eradication of homosexualism. I feel that all those who know homos in this country should make them be brought before the courts of law and be tried for their evil activity." In another such debate in November, Chief Makoni suggested that caning and flogging should be introduced as punishment for both male and female homosexuality. Under the Zimbabwe penal code, male homosexual acts are illegal and punishable by a fine.

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) is requesting that foreign governments continue expressing their grave concern regarding this situation. Send letters to your foreign ministry requesting that they contact the Zimbabwean authorities. Letters should stress the following:

  • Remarks such as those made by President Mugabe and various members of Parliament not only legitimate but encourage precisely the sorts of rights violations to which sexual minorities are subject around the world.
  • The international community has a responsibility to speak out against statements of intent to persecute a minority group. Continued pressure is needed to ensure that state harassment of gays and lesbians ceases, and that the government of Zimbabwe does not further implement its discriminatory policies.

Please send copies of the letters to:

H.E. Robert Mugabe
Private Bag 7700
Harare, Zimbabwe

and to

The Zimbabwean Parliament
PO Box CY 298
Harare, Zimbabwe