Robert Mugabe (Pic: Jeremy Lock)

Gay rights activists in Zimbabwe are hopeful that the LGBT community will be protected in the country’s new constitution, which is in the process of being drafted.

They would like to see the compilers of the constitution follow in the footsteps of neighbouring South Africa, the first country in the world to specifically bar discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference in its constitution.

“We are pushing again for sexual orientation… The National Aids Council has moved forward enormously from its original policy, and in its strategic plan for 2006-10 it specifically calls for the decriminalisation of homosexuality because punitive measures have simply driven the community underground and make this hidden population difficult to reach,” Keith Goddard, director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

“So I think we can use it on the grounds of health and HIV/Aids interventions to try and argue the issue. Arguing it on religious or moral grounds is not going to get it anywhere. We live in hope,” he said.

In April, GALZ said in a statement issued to the Zimbabwe Times: “The purpose of a Constitution is to protect vulnerable and marginalised minorities. Most gay and lesbian people in Zimbabwe live in fear and are driven underground. This is blatant discrimination against a group of people whose only difference from the majority is in who they are attracted to sexually.”

Currently, sex between men is illegal in Zimbabwe, and President Robert Mugabe has publicly referred to gay people as worse than “dogs and pigs”, and claimed that homosexuality is “un-African” and a “white man’s disease.”

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party, which forms part of the current government of national unity, is thought to be more supportive of gay rights.

In May last year, an MDC spokesperson gave hope to the county’s LGBT community by saying that, “Our vision is to build a Zimbabwe that has sufficient space and comfort for all”.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend