Robert Mugabe (left) and Morgan Tsvangirai
Human rights in Zimbabwe have been dealt a severe blow with both Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe reportedly slamming gays and lesbians.
While Mugabe has a long history of anti-gay sentiment, the country’s gay community had hoped that Tsvangirai would support the inclusion of LGBT protection in the country’s new constitution that is currently being negotiated.
However, Tsvangirai made it clear this week that he supports the president’s position, reported the state-owned Herald newspaper. Speaking after Mugabe at a Women’s Day event, he said: “The President has spoken on the issue of gay rights, men who breathe to other men’s ears.
“Never, I don’t accept that culture. Why do you look for other men when women make up 52 percent of the population? Men are few.”
Earlier, Mugabe – who previously described homosexuality as an “abomination” and gays as being “lower than pigs and dogs” – confirmed his opposition to the idea of enshrining LGBT equality in the constitution, saying: “That issue is not debatable, it’s not up for discussion.
“It is just madness, insanity. The ancestors will turn in their graves should we allow this to happen.”
Speaking to the BBC, Chesterfield Samba, director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz), said that the comments, as reported, were “very worrying”. The organisation said in April last year that it is making a submission to the body that is reviewing the constitution.
Zimbabwe is being ruled by a coalition government, which includes Tsvangirai’s MDC and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. In 2008, the spokesperson for the MDC, Nelson Chamisa, was quoted as suggesting that a MDC run government would be friendlier to gays and lesbians.
“Our vision is to build a Zimbabwe that has sufficient space and comfort for all,” he said at the time.
Homosexuality is illegal under the country’s Sodomy and Unnatural Offences laws.