January 22, 2011 – African Activist
"For six days and six nights I was in this hell."
Ellen Chademanallen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi, gay rights activists working for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), were beaten and tortured in police custody for six days last May. Since then, Zimbabwe’s judicial system has acquitted them on all charges. Ellen Chademana now tells the story of those six frightening days in police custody. Imagine spending your birthday surrounded by hostile strangers, with no decent clothing, no access to sanitary wear, in a cold and extremely filthy place, with human excreta all over the floor and being subjected to the most inhumane treatment.
May 21 2010 will always remain etched in my memory. As I recollect the events of that day I’m filled with so much pain. What started as a beautiful Friday afternoon ended in horror for me. I remember leaving the GALZ office after lunch since we work half days on Friday. On this particular day I was on weekend duty together with a colleague, but I decided I would leave early then come back later after running a few errands. It all started with a phone call from the security guard at the office informing me that, during my absence, police armed with a search warrant had raided the offices. I decided to call the Director who was out of the country on a business trip at that time. I narrated everything that had transpired.
When I heard that the detectives had left I decided I would go back to the offices. Just as I was heading back, I received another call. This time it was the police who said they needed me to come to the offices to answer a few questions. They assured me that it was nothing serious and that I should not panic. After about twenty minutes, I received another call from a detective urging me to hurry since they were still waiting for me. This time, I became confused; it was very cold but I felt hot, I couldn’t think straight and I had so little time and so many things running through my mind.
I phoned the Director again and notified him what that police had said. He advised me to call a lawyer. I tried the lawyer’s number but he was not reachable. I quickly phoned my partner who was in South Africa at that time and told her what was happening. As I got to the office my heart was pounding. I was sweating and my mouth was dry. My instincts told me that that something just wasn’t right. As soon as I parked my car, three police officers pounced on me – all coming from different directions in movie style. They asked me if I was Ellen Chademana, to which I said yes. They quickly confiscated my cell phone and dragged me into the office.
They were very aggressive and asked if we were dealing in dangerous drugs and pornography at our offices. When I told them we did not do such activities, they accused me of lying. They told me that during their search they had found pornographic pictures and a DVD in the office. They also claimed to have found material that was undermining the authority of the president. I was told that my colleague Ignatius Mhambi was also being taken to Harare Central Police Station. This was around five in the evening. I could not call anyone since my phone had been confiscated and I felt very vulnerable because no one from my family knew of my whereabouts.
During interrogations, the police said they wanted names of all GALZ members. When I told them that I didn’t have that information, they told me I was being arrested. At that point I saw my whole life crumbling; I needed someone to pinch me and tell me it was just a dream. I told them I was diabetic and since I had not eaten anything I needed to make a phone call and ask my brother to bring me something warm to wear and food. They were not bothered. It was not until I showed them my Medic Alert bracelet that they allowed me to make the call.
February 15, 2011 – Human Rights Watch
LGBT Africans Face Blackmail and Extortion on a Regular Basis – Homophobic Laws and Social Stigma to Blame
(Johannesburg) Antiquated laws against same-sex sexual activity as well as deeply ingrained social stigma result in the all-too-frequent targeting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Africa for blackmail and extortion, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in a report launched today.
The report, Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa, illustrates how LGBT Africans are made doubly vulnerable by the criminalization of homosexuality and the often-violent stigmatization they face if their sexuality is revealed. Based on research from 2007 to the present, the volume features articles and research by leading African activists and academics on the prevalence, severity and impact of these human rights violations on LGBT people in Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.
"The tragic reality is that blackmail and extortion are part of the daily lives of many LGBT Africans who are isolated and made vulnerable by homophobic laws and social stigma," says IGLHRC’s Executive Director, Cary Alan Johnson. "The responsibility clearly lies with governments to address these crimes and the underlying social and legal vulnerability of LGBT people."
The report’s authors vividly depict the isolation, humiliation and manipulation to which LGBT people are subjected by blackmailers and extortionists and describe the threats of exposure, theft, assault, and rape, that can damage and even destroy the lives of victims. Vulnerability to these crimes is faced on a regular basis and families and communities are not safe havens. For example, according to research conducted in Cameroon and featured in the report, "the bulk of blackmail and extortion attempts were committed by other members of the community – 33.9% by neighbors, 11.8% by family members, 11.5% by classmates, and 14.1% by homosexual friends. Police were often complicit in this – either by ignoring or dismissing it or, in 11.5% of cases, directly perpetrating it."
Nowhere to Turn explores the role the State plays in these crimes by ignoring blackmail and extortion carried out by police and other officials by failing to prosecute blackmailers, and by charging LGBT victims under sodomy laws when they do find the courage to report blackmail to the authorities. IGLHRC urges States to take concrete steps to reduce the incidence of these crimes by decriminalizing same-sex sexual activity, educating officials and communities about blackmail laws, and ensuring that all people are able to access judicial mechanisms without prejudice.
For more information, please contact:
Chivuli Ukwimi (IGLHRC, in Cape Town)
(27) 79-443-3938 – email
Jessica Stern (IGLHRC, in New York)
(+1) 212-430-6014 – email
Sam Cook (IGLHRC, in Johannesburg)
1 April 2011 – MSM Global Forum
GALZ Alert: Detention, Harassment and Intimidation of GALZ members
GALZ notes with grave concern, cases related to arbitrary detentions, harassment and intimidation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the organisation by law enforcement agents, family and community leaders. On the 23rd March 2011, law enforcement agents stormed the house of a male member who was in the company of four male friends. The law enforcement agents conducted a search of the premises without a search warrant. After the search, the agents took the names of all present and detained them at a Police post. The five were taken to the police station and charged with Disorderly Conduct. Whilst at the police station, the police abused and ridiculed the five. All five individuals were fined US$10 with an extra charge of US$30 to entice the officer into receipting the fines.
On the 25th March 2011, law enforcement agents detained two female members of GALZ after they were taken to the police station by relatives on allegations of practising homosexuality. The two members were interrogated separately and threatened with arrest if they denied the charges. Police officers seized the members’ mobile phones and called people in the contacts list to ascertain the nature of the two members’ relationship. While at the police station, members were verbally abused and had photographs taken by law enforcement agents who threatened to send the photographs to a local tabloid.
Again on 25 March, two female members were threatened by a local ward councillor who alleged that they were homosexuals. All cases have been referred to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
View this article’s attachment here
April 2011 – Zimbabwe AIDS Network
CSO Position Paper On Progress on UNGASS 2011
Thirty years into the HIV and AIDS pandemic, Civil Society converges in New York today, the 8th April 2011 to review progress made towards achieving Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support as well as the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6. In 2006, the international community committed to a historic political declaration, at the United Nations, to scale up the AIDS response toward Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. The foundation of this declaration was the 2001 Declaration on HIV and AIDS (UNGASS). Both of these declarations were historic mobilizations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially goal 6 which seeks to halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015.
Zimbabwe AIDS Network (ZAN) in collaboration with a core group of Civil Society representative of all sectors –(ASOs, CBOs, Networks and Organizations of PLHIV, Youth representatives, Gender Equality focused and Women’s organizations, Media and Information organizations and People living with disability) have prepared a Position Paper to contribute to the discussions being held today. Ultimately the outcome of today’s deliberations will feed into the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS set to take place between the 8th–10th June 2011 in New York.
14 April, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
Statement on President Robert Mugabe’s Threats, at the Burial of Menard Muzariri
Statements by President Robert Mugabe castigating gays and lesbians at the burial of Menard Muzariri at the National Heroes Acre on Thursday 14 April are nothing new and only serve to reinforce our call for constitutional protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex people that has been met with state sponsored homophobia of alarming levels. It is time for the Zimbabwean government to reflect seriously on its thinking around human rights including those of its lesbian and gay citizens and Government should be implementing measures which proactively encourage a culture of meaningful human rights protection in this country.
Statements by the President are a contradiction of article VII of the Global Political agreement in which the President pledges to promote equality, national healing, cohesion and unity. The President should strive to “create an environment of tolerance and respect among Zimbabweans ad that all citizens are treated with dignity and decency”.
Activists in Zimbabwe are not puppets of foreign forces, as government would have everyone believe: we want a responsible government that is responsive to the needs of all Zimbabweans and we are fighting for our own good and for our own benefit as citizens of Zimbabwe.
The President needs to provide leadership in overcoming Zimbabwe’s challenges in areas such as violence, unemployment, education and health rather than fostering antipathy and intolerance.
June 2011 – IGLHRC
Nowhere to Turn
New York – In January 2011, IGLHRC released the report, Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report, already well-received by organizations across Africa, illustrates how LGBT Africans are made doubly vulnerable by the criminalization of homosexuality and the often-violent stigmatization they face if their sexuality is revealed. Based on research from 2007 to the present, the volume features articles and research by leading African activists and academics on the prevalence, severity and impact of these human rights violations on LGBT people in Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.
Read the complete 140-page report: Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa.
18 June 2011 – The Standard
NAC wants permission to put condoms in schools
by Our Staff
The National Aids Council (NAC) is proposing amendments to a number of laws that could see the distribution of condoms at schools as a way of fighting the Aids scourge. NAC has identified about seven laws, which it wants amended to compliment its efforts. They include the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council Act. The law provides for the structure, functions and powers of ZNFPC, which include child spacing and fertility services, promotion and implementation of primary health care. But NAC wants the Act amended so that “contraceptives be made readily available in schools…stipulate placing of condoms in hotels, night clubs and lodges”.
Madeline Dube, the NAC information and communication director said the recommendations were made by a consultant hired to review HIV and Aids policies in Zimbabwe with a view of harmonising them. If the proposals are accepted, Zimbabwe will be following in the footsteps of South Africa, which in 2007 introduced the Children’s Act that gives children 12 years and older the right to access contraceptives. Other recommendations that could spark debate in Zimbabwe’s conservative society include amending the Prisons Act to allow for routine HIV-testing on admission and on release from prison.
There are also calls to include sexual violence and rape in prisons as punishable offences. Government has resisted calls to distribute condoms in prisons despite reports that homosexuality is rife. Experts regard men having sex with men as one of the most vulnerable groups in HIV transmission. NAC also wants a review of the Sexual Offences Act to “deal with homosexuality and prostitution in a programmatic way.” Homosexuality and prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe making it difficult for Aids interventions to be directed at groups involved in the practices.
Other laws that have been targeted for review include the Public Health Act, Customs and Excise Act, Children’s Act, Medical Services Act, Broadcasting Services Act and National Aids Council of Zimbabwe Act. An estimated 1,2 million Zimbabweans, including 145 225 children live with the HIV virus, which causes Aids. Although the adult prevalence rate has declined to 13,1%, it still remains one of the highest in the world.
20 June 2011 – IRIN PlusNews
Africa: New light shed on male sex work
Johannesburg,(PlusNews) – Commercial sex work, dominated by a focus on women, could be redefined as new research launched today in Nairobi, Kenya, sheds light on the complicated HIV prevention needs of what may be Africa’s most deeply underground group at high risk of HIV – male sex workers. The report co-authored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and South Africa’s Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) seeks to better understand the social contexts, sexual practices and risks, including that of HIV, among these men. The professional debut of many of the 70 male sex workers surveyed in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe was often prompted by the family rejecting the men’s sexual orientation; for others, it was a way to survive in a foreign country.
Men reported being at risk of HIV in many ways, including the unavailability of speciality health services, the premium clients placed on unprotected sex, violence and the lure of substance abuse. Although the work often placed them at risk of substance and physical abuse as well as HIV infection, the researchers found that it also provided the men with a sense of freedom and empowerment. The report cautions that mitigating these risks may require specialised HIV prevention services unlike those targeted at female commercial sex workers or men who have sex with men (MSM).
A series of interviews with male sex workers at a five-country workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, and country visits to Kenya and Namibia has produced a significant addition to the paucity of data on male sex workers, according to Paul Boyce, a UNDP researcher. While data on MSM from Malawi, Namibia and Botswana indicated that about 17 percent were HIV positive – almost twice the national prevalence rates of their respective countries – not much has been written on the specific HIV risks of male sex workers, which may be higher than those of MSM.
While male sex workers reported working at a range of venues, including Namibian truck stops and Zimbabwean mines, most of the available information on male sex work has come from those operating in the sex tourism hot spot of Mombasa, Kenya, with limited data from a 2009 study in South Africa that showed male sex workers were twice as likely to engage in anal sex than MSM who were not selling sex.
Not necessarily the same old risks
Unprotected receptive anal sex carries almost 20 times the HIV risk associated with unprotected vaginal sex. Interviewees told researchers that the unavailability of water-based lubricant, which reduces the risk of condoms breaking during anal sex, and the higher financial reward of unprotected anal sex, made consistent condom use difficult. Some clients forced unprotected intercourse on sex workers, while others admitted to practicing unsafe sex due to the disinhibition often brought about by the drug and alcohol abuse that is reportedly part of the social scene in sex work. Drugs and alcohol also helped the men mentally cope with the omnipresent risks of this lifestyle, including police harassment.
South African male sex workers said substance abuse – not HIV infection – was the greatest threat to their health. Those who tried to access health services for HIV testing and treatment, or the diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), reported being ridiculed and stigmatized by health workers, even in countries like Kenya, where the Ministry of Health has introduced new guidelines on MSM and sex work, and health and HIV.
June 23, 2011 – African Activist
Zimbabwe’s Laws Lack Distinction Between Consensual Sex and Rape for LGBTI Persons
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) issued a press statement on Monday addressing the rape of a 10-year-old by a senior police officer. Homosexuality is criminalised in Zimbabwe and the current laws lack distinction between consensual same sex conduct and rape for LGBTI persons. This lack of distinction in the law and the media "promotes the dangerous myth that homosexual men are automatically rapists and abusers of children."
Statement on Media reports of a senior police officer charged for allegedly sodomising his brother’s ten-year-old son
20 June 2011
GALZ is outraged by media reports that a senior police officer was arrested and charged for allegedly sodomising a ten year old. We deplore sexual atrocities against children and we strongly condemn the actions of the police officer whose role in society is to protect the very same child that he allegedly raped on several occasions before threatening him with unspecified action.
It is clear that distinctions need to be made between consensual and enforced sodomy given the fact that the officer now faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault instead of Rape. This distinction needs to be made as these confusions have led to a situation of injustice since the law on sodomy lacks clarity, certainty and consistency. Thinking on sodomy in Zimbabwean society is muddled and the issues need to be clarified in order that justice be done: sodomy per se is not wrong or harmful to society but rape, sexual abuse, physical violence, abuse of authority and sexual relations between adults and minors are criminal acts and it is correct that they be punishable by law.
There is no distinction under Zimbabwean law between consensual same sex conduct, which GALZ believes should be decriminalised, and enforced sodomy that should be retermed rape. Recently, there has been a trend in the media to equate sodomy with rape. This is alarming because it promotes the dangerous myth that homosexual men are automatically rapists and abusers of children. It is deeply shameful that, in the interests of preserving cultural taboos, Zimbabwean society does not permit children to be properly informed about matters of sex in order that they might have the chance to save themselves from sexual predators.
We call for a review of the sodomy laws by decriminalising consensual sodomy and replacing the term enforced sodomy with rape. Only then can justice be done in this country.
July 9, 2011 – GALZ
GALZ exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail
Transcript of an Interview conducted by a Sunday Mail reporter: Edwin Mwase (SM)and members of GALZ Management (GALZ) at the GALZ offices on Wednesday July 6 2011.(shortened version) The Interview was on an article on whether the Zimbabwean community is ready to welcome homosexual people. The State controlled paper is notorious for publishing homophobic rhetoric.
SM: There is a paradigm shift in our newspapers whereby we have decided to give people opportune time to speak out their views as long as it does not concern politics.As you are aware that we are currently in the process of drafting a new constitution, which is all-inclusive to all sectors of the society, what is your view in the process?
GALZ: On which issue since you mentioned several issues.
SM: Particularly the issue of gay rights whether they should be included in the new constitution.
GALZ: It’s not an issue of gay rights, but an issue of universal rights. When GALZ put through its constitutional submission what we are talking about is not set rights or special rights.What we want is for LGBTI people to be afforded the same rights that other human rights have. We want LGBTI people to have access to human rights in general and broadly because human rights are indivisible, inalienable and universal. Which mean everyone has rights. What we are saying is that we have difficulties in accessing our rights when it comes to issues of health -education, housing and employment. And when we have challenges and we try and seek redress we are unable to get redress because people just throw ‘you are a homosexual’ in our faces. What we want to do is have something in the law that says that people cannot be discriminated based on their sexual orientation, which then affords us an opportunity to then challenge when we are being discriminated because of our sexual orientation. So its not that we want special rights but rights that recognize and do not discriminate LGBTI people.
SM:When you say LGBTI what do you mean?
GALZ: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people.
SM: Do you think Zimbabwean community is ready to accept the gay community?
GALZ: It’s time that Zimbabwean community accepted diversity because that is within our communities. We also need to be tolerant on how we interact with each other. Having a different sexual orientation from heterosexuality does not in any way entail that homosexual people are going against the laws of the land. What we want is an environment that is tolerant and accepts diversity.
SM: What is it exactly which you want included in the constitution which you think will safeguard your rights as equal citizens of the country.
GALZ: As said earlier on we advocate for non-discrimination, right to privacy, freedom of expression, opinion and association. Those are the core requests that we put in as GALZ. Those rights cannot in anyway be then associated with one sector of the society such as the Gay and Lesbian community only. These issues affect everybody regardless of sexual orientation. So those are the kind of rights we are advocating for and our submission speaks to that. We are not in any way advocating for our right to marry or some of the issues that have been put in the newspapers.
Often times people ask that If LGBTI people are given rights does that mean we are also opening doors for those who engage in sexual relations with children or rape animals to ask for their rights. One thing that is very important just to put a clear distinction between what it means to be homosexual and what it means to be someone who abuses. Pedophilia is not something that homosexual people engage in. In-fact-it’s also something that as a community we are trying to fight against. Neither do we advocate for abusing animals (bestiality). When we talk about rights it is important to note that we live within the laws of the land. When it comes to abuse of people including animals those are the kind of things we fight against as human rights organizations. We believe in the rights of all people including the rights of animals too in as much as we eat them.
10 July 2011 – AllAfrica.com
Proposal to Decriminalise Homosexuality
by Jennifer Dube
A consultant hired by the National Aids Council (NAC) to review Zimbabwe’s response to the Aids pandemic has recommended a review of the Sexual Offences Act to deal with "homosexuality and prostitution in a pragmatic way." The law in its present form criminalises homosexuality and prostitution. Zimbabwe, which is predominantly Christian, also considers both practices alien. But the study carried out by the consultant who cannot be named for professional reasons encourages Zimbabweans to be open-minded about homosexuality and other sexual practices if the pandemic, killing thousands of people every week, is to be brought under control.
The same document calls for the review of the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council Act so that "contraceptives should be made available in schools,…stipulates placing condoms in hotels, night clubs and beer halls." The recommendation on condoms in schools, first reported in The Standard, has sparked a fierce debate but it is likely to be paled by the suggestion that the country must have a relook at its anti-sodomy laws. Men having sex with other men (MSM) have been singled out along commercial sex workers as some of the most vulnerable groups in HIV transmission in Zimbabwe.
A recent study on the modes of HIV transmission in the country indicated that MSM accounted for 4% of new infections and 0,4% for female partners of MSM. Commercial sex workers account for 1,4% of new infections. The Zimbabwe National HIV and Aids Strategic Plan (ZNASP) also calls for "a review and update of the national regulatory framework to reflect the latest developments in the HIV situation and response to the epidemic." NAC said the consultant was hired to review all the Acts, declarations and protocols that deal with the fight against HIV and Aids.
The council says it is not actively advocating for the recommendations, such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality, but would encourage debate around the issues. Tapuwa Magure, the NAC CEO said the organisation was yet to consider the recommendations and come up of with a position, especially on the controversial issues such as placing condoms in schools and homosexuality. "We hired a consultant who made those recommendations but we have not yet sat down to go through them as an organisation so we currently do not have a position regarding them," he said. "We however believe that all populations, be it the disabled or prisoners, should have access to interventions and as a country, we are doing well in this regard. It was a bit premature to present those recommendations to the media but we will be having a position in due course."
The country’s HIV prevalence rate in adults currently stands at 13,1% and is considered to be among the highest in the world. President Robert Mugabe once labelled homosexuals as worse than dogs and pigs. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also angered civic groups last year when he strongly spoke against homosexuality. Zimbabwe has also resisted calls to provide prisoners with condoms despite widespread reports that inmates engage in sexual activities. South Africa is the only African country that has decriminalised homosexuality.
‘Gays forced underground’
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) said the criminalisation of homosexuality and the prevailing homophobic climate was driving most gay people underground. "Service providers such as doctors and nurses also tend to develop negative attitudes when dealing with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gendered) people as a result of lack of information," GALZ said. "In terms of HIV prevention this is serious, particularly as GALZ is the only organisation in Zimbabwe providing services specifically to the lesbian and gay community; and very few other HIV/Aids organisations even consider MSM/ women having sex with women (WSW) in their intervention work."
Zimbabwe has no data for sexual minorities, but studies done in Botswana and Malawi among other regional countries estimate that HIV prevalence among MSM is between 20% to 33%. The studies also concluded that the risk of men acquiring HIV during unprotected receptive anal sex is 10 times higher than during insensitive anal sex or unprotected vaginal sex with a woman. GALZ said while HIV/Aids issues were being "heterosexualised" in Zimbabwe, minority groups were even more at risk of contracting HIV through anal sex and some MSM had female partners thus, expanding the HIV network.
"The right to health should be accorded to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender, sex or creed," GALZ said in response to the recommendations by the NAC consultant. "Decriminalising consensual same sex practise will reduce fear, stigma and discrimination as it has to be accompanied by education, trainings and sensitisation of all stakeholders including the police. Availability of information and proper protective barrier methods for MSM will go a long way in preventing further new infections among MSM who do contribute to the generalised epidemic in Zimbabwe (and) reduction of sexual networks or multiple concurrent relationships among these groups through education and empowerment without fear or persecution (can help)."
August 04, 2011 – African Activist
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe Video Tinzweiwo (Hear Our Plea) Released
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) just released Tinzweiwo (Hear Our Plea) on YouTube. Tinzweiwo was the 15-minute documentary submitted to Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Select Committee in February 2010 advocating for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Zimbabwe’s new constitution. At the time, GALZ organised an Indaba that resulted in a plan of action and draft resolution declaring that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity.
Here is Behind the Mask’s description about the DVD:
Titled Tinzweiwo (Hear our plea) the DVD, according to GALZ, is a plea to Zimbabweans who have always brushed the issues of homosexuality aside as non-existent or unnatural to listen and address these issues. The DVD contains testimonies of about 10 GALZ members, their experiences of homophobic in the hands of family, society and law enforcement agencies. The members also highlight their reasons for advocating for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts as well as their call for an end to state instigated homophobia. This has led to constant attacks and threats to gay and lesbian people who at times run the risk of being blackmailed once their sexuality is discovered
In the DVD participants tell their stories as gays and lesbians who were born and bred in Zimbabwe who say that they have not been influenced by any foreigners contrary to the myth that homosexuality is a Western behavior imposed upon Africans. Although most the interviews are in Shona, the video has English subtitles. The Indaba organised by GALZ resulted in a plan of action and draft resolution declaring that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and humanity.
After the Indaba and the submission of the DVD to the Constitutional Select Committee, President Robert Mugabe (Zanu-PF) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) came out strongly against including sexual orientation in the new Zimbabwe constitution at a belated Women’s Day celebration. GALZ offices where subsequently raided by police and two employees were arrested as Zimbabwe moved into the constitutional outreach phase where people throughout the country offered their views about what needed to be included in the new constitution. This was a strategic time to discuss LGBTI human rights.
Zimbabwe’s judicial system dismissed all charges against GALZ activists. Ellen Chademana, one of the arrested activists, tells her story in "For six days and six nights I was in this hell."
August 09, 2011 – African Activist
Five Men Arrested in Zimbabwe for Being Gay
Bulawayo24 News is reporting that five men were arrested in Domboshava near Harare on allegations of "being gay and committing acts of sexual immorality." The men are currently being detained at Domboshava Police Station awaiting trial. Five men have been arrested in Domboshava near Harare on allegations of being gay and committing acts of sexual immorality, state controlled ZBC News reported on Tuesday. The five men include a 55-year-old white and 4 black men whose ages have not yet been released, they are currently detained at Domboshava Police Station awaiting trial. The incident happened when a bottle store owner suspected that something was wrong after seeing the young black men spending money in an unusual manner leading him to alert the police.
Bulawayo24 News reported in June that Zimbabwe police were investigating Book Café in Harare after a group of LGBTI persons showed up for a 4 June concert by afro-pop artiste John Pfumojena. Some members of the group were dressed in drag and showed public signs of affection. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) spokesperson Inspector Zimbili said, "The law is very clear on that matter; if there was a gay parade or festival at that mall, we are going to carry a full investigation."
Last year the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) offices where raided by police and two employees were arrested after GALZ participated in a national process to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the new constitution. The arrests occurred as Zimbabwe moved into the constitutional outreach phase where people throughout the country offered their views about what needed to be included in the new constitution.
August 15, 2011 – African Activist
Mugabe "Blows His Top" Over Gay Journalist
A number of media outlets in Zimbabwe are reporting that Robert Mukondiwa, one of Zimbabwe’s finest journalists, was caught having sex with a Namibian man while covering President Mugabe’s trip to Windhoek, Namibia. When news reached President Mugabe, "he blew his top." He demanded to know who was protecting Mukondiwa at Zimpapers. The newspaper held an emergency meeting over the weekend to determine Mukondiwa’s fate. Editors at Zimpapers take turns to accompany the President on his lucrative trips where they are paid hefty allowances. Mukondiwa accompanied President Mugabe to cover the summit of liberation war movements in SADC last week.
While in Windhoek, Mukondiwa, one of the finest journalists in the country, reportedly shared a room with an intelligence operative to mitigate the costs. But while the CIO operative was away, Mukondiwa hired a male gay hooker for a good time. But the CIO operative returned earlier than anticipated and walked in on the two while they were humping. He reportedly alerted Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba. The matter was said to have reached Mugabe’s ears, who blew his top. He reportedly summoned Information minister Webster Shamu about the matter and enquired why he had approved a homosexual to cover his trip when he knew his revulsion against gays.
Shamu was said to have tried to protect him, but Mugabe reportedly said it was not the first time such a case had been brought to his attention. He reportedly demanded to know who was protecting Mukondiwa at Zimpapers and why. Over the weekend, a crisis meeting was held at Zimpapers to decide Mukondiwa’s fate. Allegedly Mukondiwa posted to his Facebook wall that he was feeling suicidal on Saturday. Robert Mukondiwa "pray for me…i am feeling suicidal. its only a matter of minutes Saturday at 16:29 via Facebook Mobile."
August 19th, 2011 – Behind The Mask
Open Society Hosts Meeting Of LGBT Activists From Southern Africa
The Open Society Initiatives for Southern Africa (OSISA) has just concluded a three day meeting in Johannesburg for LGBT activists from 13 regional countries. During the meeting participants were asked to form three groups (Lesbians /Bisexual women/WSW, Gay/Bisexual/ MSM and Transgender /FTM/MTF/Non conforming) to identify the problems faced by each group regarding HIV/Aids. Most of the groups shared the same sentiments such as legal framework, laws and policies that hinder the LGBT community from accessing services. They also discussed access to justice, access to education, social empowerment, socio-cultural issues and hate crimes.
“It was open and fair enough to cover HIV related issues facing LGBT communities regionally and I strongly believe that all the ideas together will bring change in African countries” said TP Mothopeng from Lesotho’s Matrix Support Group. During the meeting activists also shared their experiences on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV/Aids, examined country specific context for LGBT and HIV issues, developed an advocacy agenda and strategy and then elected 10 people who will now represent the LGBT group at the next joint workshop which will take place in October where the three key groups will be represented.
Ian Swartz, OSISA programme coordinator for LGBTI special initiatives said in his opening remarks “The goal of the meeting is to build the capacity of the three key groups (LGBTI activists, women living with HIV, and sex workers) in 13 countries to develop a regional advocacy and lobbying strategy to address HIV and Aids.” For many years the HIV within LGBT sector has been led by gay men and it is only recently that the WSW were brought on board. As a result of these changes this meeting was totally different and the Trans community found they scored more nominations than the other identities to be on the working group.
In October 2010 UNIFEM [now UN Women] issued a call for proposals to work with three marginalized communities [namely sex workers, women living with HIV and LGBT communities] to develop regional advocacy strategies on HIV and Aids. The HIV and Aids programme, in partnership with the Women’s Rights programme and the Special Initiative on LGBT rights submitted a proposal and were awarded the contract.
22 August 2011 – PinkNews
Zimbabwean bishop seizing church homes from ‘pro-gay’ Anglicans
by Stephen Gray
In Zimbabwe, the usurpation of the Anglican Church continues as widespread homophobia is used to fuel a schism that favours supporters of dictator Robert Mugabe. Reverend Dzikamai Mudenda was driven from his home in Mabvuku, just outside Harare last week. Michael Chingore, registrar for the Anglican Diocese of Harare, told ENInews: “The Rev. Dzikamai Mudenda and his family left after they were threatened by people from the Kunonga group who came with copies of the court judgment. They have been going around the vestries and parishes dropping copies of the judgment and demanding that the church officers leave.”
Nolbert Kunonga was an Anglican bishop until his excommunication in 2007. He rose to prominence in 2004 as head of the Diocese of Harare in Zimbabwe before his links with Robert Mugabe caused insurmountable controversy. Taking advantage of anti-gay feeling, he then railed against the Anglican Church, and installed himself as head of the new Anglican Province of Zimbabwe. Kunonga told the New York Times he wanted control of the 3,000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, and those in Zambia, Botswana and Malawi.
The eviction of a priest on 16 August in Mabvuku follows the seizure of control of churches. Zimbabwe’s current regime takes a hard line in its condemnation of homosexuality. Earlier this year, Mugabe called Britain ‘gay filth’. However, theories have been put forward that Kunonga has used the regime’s opposition to gays to discredit the Anglican Church, which has never been seen to take a openly liberal stance on the issue, and use that public support to seize control of its assets. It is illegal in Zimbabwe for two members of a sex to hold hands, hug or kiss under laws enacted by the regime in 2006.
In 2010, it was reported that gays and lesbians in the country face ‘corrective rape’ if they are discovered.
22 August 2011 – New Zimbabwe
Gay rights: towards a culture of tolerance
by Munya Munochiveyi
Every informed citizen is aware that our Zimbabwean constitutional experts are busy drafting what could potentially become our new Constitution of Zimbabwe, superseding the patently colonial Lancaster House Constitution. One aspect that our anonymous drafters of the new constitution must be grappling with as they sift through the numerous views gathered by the constitutional outreach programme is the submerged issue of Zimbabwe’s sexual minorities, gays and lesbians. There is no doubt that ethnic and racial minorities of Zimbabwean will find more accommodation in this envisaged constitution more than these sexual minorities. This is the raison d’etre of this article.
As in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, until recently, there was no sustained, popular debate about homosexuality in Zimbabwe. It seems to me that, historically speaking, the issue of homosexuality was and still is a non-issue for most Africans because of the general assumption that homosexuality never existed in African societies. Indeed, having grown up in Zimbabwe, I only got to know that there was such a thing as homosexuality when I got to university! And quite immediately, the moment I learnt about homosexuality it was cast as a deviant sexuality that was un/anti-African. And this is the most pervasive attitude that most Africans have towards homosexuality – they see homosexuality not as a bad thing for other foreign or non-African people to embrace, but as a culturally un-African behaviour.
I remember that in the 1990s, when a small group of gay activists openly protested against laws that criminalised homosexuality, literally the majority of the Zimbabwean populace closed ranks in opposition to homosexuality (in a similar fashion to what is happening now in Uganda, Malawi and elsewhere). I regret it now, but when President Robert Mugabe issued his now infamous 1995 aspersion against gays as “worse than pigs and dogs”, I enthusiastically endorsed that sentiment, despite my own revulsion with Mugabe’s dictatorial tendencies.
The argument then was, and has always been, that homosexuality is un-African and that it never existed in any prominent way in African societies. Most Africans today actually argue and believe that Western nations are the ones responsible for past and current attempts to foist or impose the acceptance of homosexuality on African countries and their peoples, a practice many believe to be “western” or “European”. And I also suspect that the obsession has been mostly with male-to-male sexualities because of the general presumption and fear that homosexuality is an attack on African masculinity.
But of course, as historians of Africa are beginning to learn, we now know that the basic assumptions underlying these African attitudes towards homosexuality are wrong and quite clearly ahistorical. At the very dawn of history in southern Africa, when there was a transition from the hunting-gathering economy of the Khoisan to the cattle-based economy of Bantu-speaking people that brought more male control over the sexuality of women, dissident sexualities such as hungochani began to emerge or were already known.
The Shona of Zimbabwe, for example, like other societies, observed a culture of discretion around sexual matters, and actually recognised various forms of queer sexualities. Examples of pre-colonial gender variance and sexual inversion included ritual incest and celibacy, such as the mbonga, a female guardian whose celibacy protected the Shona chief, and the chibanda, a caste of male diviners possessed by female spirits and referred to in early European sources as “passive sodomites”.
September 22, 2011 – African Activist
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) Speak Out About Attack on Lesbian
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) is speaking out about the recent brutal attack on a lesbian in the town of Chitungwiza, south of Harare. According to GALZ, the attack followed “continued reports of harassment and threats towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the area by known individuals."
From New Zimbabwe:
Chitungwiza police are investigating a vicious street attack on a lesbian. The Gays and Lesbian Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) says the woman, who has not been named, had earlier been insulted at a local bar where she was in the company of a female “friend”. The woman, described as in her 20s, was “punched in the stomach and pushed to the floor” by two men who also kicked her. “One of the men broke a bottle of beer on her head,” a GALZ statement said on Wednesday.
She underwent treatment for her injuries at Chitungwiza General Hospital. “Medical reports were used to open a case against the perpetrators with the police,” the statement added. A police spokesman confirmed two men had been interviewed over the September 2 incident and investigations were continuing. GALZ said the attack followed “continued reports of harassment and threats towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the area by known individuals”.
At the beginning of August, Bulawayo24 News reported that five men were arrested in Domboshava near Harare on allegations of "being gay and committing acts of sexual immorality." Last year the offices of GALZ where raided by police and two employees were arrested after GALZ participated in a national process to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the new constitution.
10 October 2011 – All Africa.com
Zimbabwe: Anglican Head Admits Gay Problem
Source: The Herald (Harare) – Published by the government of Zimbabwe
by Lovemore Chikova
Harare — President Mugabe met the visiting Archbishop of Canterbury and central figure in the Anglican Communion Dr Rowan Williams yesterday and criticised sections of the church for condoning homosexuality. Sources, who attended the meeting at State House that lasted nearly an hour, said the President told Dr Williams that homosexuality was against Christianity. "The President made it clear that homosexuality was against morals, cultural values and Christian teachings," said a source.
Dr Williams admitted at a Press conference after meeting President Mugabe that homosexuality was indeed a problem within the church. He said not everybody accepted it, but the homosexuals "deserved dignity and respect". "The church does not allow same sex relationships and that is common ground across the Anglicans," he said. "On the practice of homosexuality by bishops in the US and Canada, these are provinces, which do not represent the general line."
The crisis over homosexuality deepened in the Anglican Church in 2003 when two openly gay men in England and the United States became candidates for bishop. In the Episcopal Church USA, Gene Robinson, was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, becoming the first gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. Dr Williams presented a dossier to President Mugabe with allegations that some Anglicans were being persecuted by Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga.
Archbishop Kunonga left the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa over its acceptance of homosexuality and now leads the independent Province of Zimbabwe. The sources said President Mugabe told Dr Williams that the Government and himself were not involved in the fight within the church.
Read complete article here
October 12, 2011 – African Activist
Renogade Bishop in Zimbabwe Uses LGBTI Community to Maintain Power
Excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a loyalist of longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe, has been using the visit of Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury, to stigmatise LGBTI persons and maintain his illegitimate control of church assets. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, told more than 15,000 mainstream Anglican worshippers gathered for mass at a city stadium that Anglican worshippers are constantly "tortured by uncertainty and risk of attack" and have endured "mindless and Godless assaults," in the southern African country.
He praised the worshippers for being "active and courageous" amid a bitter dispute between the followers of breakaway Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and mainstream Anglican church worshippers. Kunonga, a loyalist of longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe, was excommunicated in 2007 by the main Anglican Province of Central Africa and the worldwide head of the church. He was accused of inciting violence in sermons supporting Mugabe’s party.
The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been divided since Kunonga’s excommunication. He has taken over the main cathedral, schools and the church’s bank accounts…
Meanwhile Sunday, Kunonga and his supporters demonstrated outside Harare’s main cathedral against Williams’ visit. Kunonga insists he split from the Anglican church because of its position on gay marriage. Leaders of the global Anglican Communion have condemned gay relationships as a violation of Scripture. However, the Anglican Communion is loosely organized without one authoritative leader such as a pope, so some individual provinces have decided on their own that they should move toward accepting same-gender unions.
Mugabe is a bitter critic of homosexuality. Kunonga led the demonstrations Sunday because he said Williams’ visit to Zimbabwe is a "crusade for gays."
"This is a demonstration against homosexuality. I told people to come and demonstrate if they wanted," Kunonga said. "Rowan Williams erred by accepting homosexuality and that has broken up the church all over."
18 October 2011 – PinkNews
Zimbabwe refuses to give prisoners condoms because homosexuality is illegal
by Jessica Geen
Prisoners in Zimbabwe are being denied condoms despite high rates of HIV – because homosexuality is illegal. The Prison Service said last week that condoms could “encourage” illegal gay sex among the 13,000-strong prison population. HIV activists, who called the decision “tragic”, have been urging the Prison Service to do more to tackle the disease.
Prison Service deputy commissioner Agrey Huggins Machingauta told a parliamentary committee that while officials are aware that sexual activity happens, “corrective action” can be taken. “On the issue of condoms, we cannot issue them out to inmates until this House passes legislation to legalise homosexuality in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Zimbabwe not only criminalises gay sex. Under laws enacted by President Mugabe’s regime in 2006, it is illegal for two members of the same sex to hold hands, hug or kiss.
25 Oct, 2011 – GALZ
GALZ Welcomes the Prime Minister’s Statements on Gay Rights
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) welcomes the recent comments by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the BBC, wherein "he told the BBC that gay rights were a ‘human right’ that conservative Zimbabweans should respect." We note however that these statements contradict his views expressed in March 2010, when Mr Tsvangirai agreed with President Mugabe, saying, "Gay rights were not up for discussion in Zimbabwe."
Gay rights are a controversial issue in Zimbabwe, where many people view homosexuality as "uncultural." GALZ does not expect every individual Zimbabwean to embrace gay rights or the issue of homosexuality. But we do expect Zimbabweans – and our political leaders in particular – to understand and promote the fundamental, inalienable and indivisible nature of human rights, including non-discrimination on the basis of race, gender, tribe, culture, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
Zimbabwe’s new, democratic constitution must enshrine these human rights, which are inherent to every human being, and are not determined by majority opinion. We encourage the Prime Minister to take positive action to support his most recent statement on the indivisibility of human rights. Further, we urge him to have the courage to stand by his laudable respect for human rights in the face of the propaganda and unpopularity that will be generated by the Zimbabwean media around his position. True leadership remains steadfast in the pursuit of justice and equality.
4 November 2011 – PinkNews
Zambia and Zimbabwe appear to reject gay rights “pressure” on aid
by Stephen Gray
Zambian and Zimbabwean officials have said their countries will not enact gay rights laws in order for their governments to receive British aid. Government minister Given Lubinda said the Zambia would only enact laws supported by its citizens and in line with their culture. He said: “David Cameron must be reminded of what we agreed when we met in Paris for the Paris Declaration. When we met in Ghana, we came up with the Accra Agenda for Action and both those declarations are that no country will use its aid to influence the policies of an aid receiving country.” Speaking to Zambia’s Hot FM Radio, he continued: “It is wrong for Mr Cameron to try and use aid as a way of influencing policies and laws of Zambia. Zambia will not be pressured to formulate laws or policies by any foreign government.”
Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, one political party leader said chances for gay rights protection were “zero”, despite Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s assertion that gay rights are “human rights” last month. Welshman Ncube is the leader of MDC-M, who make up around 5 percent of Zimbabwe’s House of Assembly, but said the view was widely held. Ncube was meeting with church leaders in Bulawayo last week when he said the views of the people were clear and they did not support gay rights in the constitution, The Zimbabwean reports.
He said: “If you look at the constitution data today, the people said no to protecting gay rights and I think chances are zero” If we listen to the views of people who attended COPAC [constitutional select committee] meetings, it is clear that they said no to gay rights.” However, Mr Cameron’s announcement about how the status of gay rights could affect a country’s aid does not reflect a change of essential policy, as LGBT rights have historically fallen under the head of human rights and have always been expected to be recognised by aid-receiving countries.
Instead, the stricter implementation of the Department for International Development’s existing guidelines would see a reduction in General Budget Support, the aid that is sent directly to overseas governments, in favour of alternative funding mechanisms if those governments are not seen to recognise all human rights. A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK Government is at the forefront of work to promote human rights around the world, and regularly criticises Governments which violate those rights.
“This includes working to end religious intolerance, and persecution and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexuality. Our new approach, set out in detail in July this year, means we only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty; respect human rights; improve public financial management; fight corruption; and promote good governance and transparency.” The government intends to reduce the amount given in General Budget Support to foreign governments from 16% of bilateral foreign aid in 2009/10 to 9% in 2014/15. Ugandan and Ghanaian governments have already signalled that they will not legislate to protect gays.
06 November 2011 – The Zimbabwa Mail
Zimbabwe gay community also needs rights
by Maxwell Sibanda
Harare – Homosexuality has been acknowledged since the biblical times and comes as something not entirely new in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, the gay community that comes out to declare their preference in the open are actually just a fraction of the total gay community. The gay community in Zimbabwe is made up of company owners, company executives, directors, managers, school teachers, doctors and ordinary people. There are some companies or clubs that comprise of gay people only. You are rest assured that you will not get a job at those companies if you are not one of them, and they have their own nightclubs where they meet. And one cannot tell that this group is made of gay personalities or not, because the practice involves men and women, so their association may not give any leads.
The recent outbursts at Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s support of gay rights as a human right are not supported by logic, but driven by a political desire to please President Robert Mugabe who has over the years spoken against homosexuality. The problem with Zanu PF officials and those surrounding Mugabe is that whatever the “Dear Leader” says, they parrot it and treat it as gospel. For instance, Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth was a result of a mere statement Mugabe made about the organisation and MPs stampeded to sponsor a motion in Parliament calling for a withdrawal without considering the opportunity costs.
If Mugabe says he hates gays, everyone around him also starts hating gay people. If Mugabe says elections will have to happen next week without fail, everyone around him will support him without even putting a thought to it. But politics of misplaced patriotism is very dangerous especially when the “Dear Leader” sets unimaginable goal posts like trying to eliminate gay activism among the communities. That this group of people lives among us is indisputable and the more we try to pretend that we do not have gay people among us, the more we are doing the whole nation a disservice.
We need to acknowledge that this groups exists and in numbers.
Read complete article here