Morgan Tsvangirai

Members of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s own party have criticised him for his recent comments supporting lesbian and gay rights.

Metro Zimbabwe reports that the MDC party is refusing to back the statements, with his spokesperson now claiming that Tsvangirai was “misrepresented”.

“There has been a lot of misrepresentation about the Prime Minister’s position regarding that issue, and I am talking about the Prime Minister’s position and not the position of the party,” Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka told Voice of America.

“His current position, which has been misrepresented, is that the people of Zimbabwe are currently writing their own constitution and the expression of the people of Zimbabwe in the current constitution will dictate Zimbabwe’s position regarding gay rights, and the Prime Minister has no power to impose or determine the position of the people of Zimbabwe regarding that process,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, from the ZANU-PF party, said that he was taken aback by Tsvangirai’s comments. “I know personally he doesn’t believe it. He has said so many times in the Cabinet.”

“We all know what people said about gay rights – it’s a total no; an almost 100% no,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

“We can’t smuggle [into the Constitution] the views of a prime minister who wants to please a certain audience basically, I suppose, to mobilise resources for his party.”

Tsvangirai told the BBC that gay and lesbian equality should be protected by the country’s new constitution.

“It’s a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody,” he told Newsnight’s Gavin Esler.

“To me, it’s a human right,” Tsvangirai added.

In March last year, however, he was quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper as saying that he supported President Robert Mugabe’s homophobic stance on gay rights.

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