A top official of the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) has told parliament that prisoners will not be provided with condoms because homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe.

According to local media reports, ZPS Deputy Commissioner Agrey Huggins Machingauta last week told the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights that consensual and non-consensual sex between male inmates was a reality.

“We know that this activity takes place in our prisons because we receive reports,” Machingauta said.

“In terms of the Prisons Act, it is an offence and we actually have legal powers to try and punish. There are hardcore criminals who would indulge in anything but once a report is made, we take corrective action.”

He added, however, that despite the high risk that inmates face in contracting HIV the ZPS would not provide them with condoms.

“On the issue of condoms, we cannot issue them out to inmates until this House passes legislation to legalise homosexuality in Zimbabwe,” Machingauta said.

Gay sex – along with members of the same sex holding hands, hugging or kissing – is illegal in Zimbabwe with penalties of up to three years in jail.

Notoriously homophobic President Robert Mugabe has long railed against gays and lesbians, describing them as being worse than dogs and pigs.

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