Zimbabwe: IGLHRC Deeply Concerned With Revision of Criminal Code

An announcement by the Zimbabwean government that the criminal code has been amended and includes an expanded definition of the term “sodomy” is of great concern. The new law describes sodomy as anal intercourse between two men and “any act involving physical contact … that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act”. The vagueness of this wording means that a kiss, hug or any other physical intimacy between men could be penalized by imprisonment for a period of one year.

“The importation of homophobia from the West continues,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s Senior Specialist for Africa. “African culture is highly homosocial. Men of all ages, ethnicities and preferences hold hands, embrace, and dance together at nightclubs. It’s a sign of friendship.”

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has determined that sodomy laws violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but Zimbabwe and 28 other African countries maintain laws directed against same-sex practicing people.