Zimbabwe: Mugabe & The Church Continue Attack on Gays & Lesbians

Addressing an Interdenominational conference in Harare on 28 February 1996, President Mugabe deplored homosexuality and lesbianism, which he said threatened to pervade the nation. The church, which has exerted a particularly strong influence on the presidential elections scheduled for mid-March, continues to support Mugabe in his public condemnation of homosexuality and lesbianism. The Zimbabwean President described AIDS as a "message from God that it is now time we looked at our morality."

While President Mugabe's anti-gay rhetoric has not ceased, no action has been taken against the Gays & Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), and there have been no reported cases of individual harassment. This is largely due to the tremendous international outcry and letter writing campaign. Five months after GALZ was expelled from the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, both the Book Fair and the President continue to be inundated with protest messages, and President Mugabe has reportedly been met with protests on his international trips. GALZ also reports that as a result of Mugabe's outbursts, the issue of homosexuality has been made public in Zimbabwe, and GALZ membership has also doubled since August.

GALZ requests that you send letters to the following religious bodies protesting their endorsement of President Mugabe, and to the President, protesting his continued state harassment of homosexuals. Letters should note the following points:

1. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has in the past month publicly supported the rights of lesbians and gay men, calling them children of God, and comparing anti-homosexual discrimination to the Apartheid system's treatment of South Africa's black citizens.
2. AIDS does not reflect some divine punishment for immorality, but rather reveals the urgency with which the government and church need to disseminate factual information about HIV transmission, which in African countries occurs primarily through heterosexual sexual contact.
3. An adequate public health response to the AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe includes state guarantees for the safety of people with AIDS and HIV positive people, and not their social stigmatization.

Please send respectfully worded letters to:

Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa
13 a Powell Road
P.O. Box W68
Harare, Zimbabwe
Fax: 011/263/4/737-386
Zimbabwe Council of Churches
P.O. Box 3566
Harare, Zimbabwe
Fax: 011/263/4/573-073
Tel: 011/263/4/707-091(7)
H.E Robert Mugabe
Private Bag 7700
Harare, Zimbabwe