“We have sat down as the select committee and finalised some of the outstanding issues that were parked, like freedom of choice and discrimination of people on grounds of sexual orientation,” he said.
“We (three political parties) resolved homosexuality is not going to be recognised at law,” he noted.
However, he then added, confusingly, that “the issue we are still discussing is discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation”.
Mwonzora, who is a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, explained that “the issue of discrimination is important to look at. For example, if a person known as a homosexual applied for a job, can he be discriminated against because of his/her sexual orientation?”
It’s unclear what this means. It could be possible that the drafters of the constitution may intend to protect those who identify as gay from everyday discrimination while still allowing the law to retain the ban on the actual act of same-gender sex.
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.
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, COPAC co-chairperson from Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, refused to comment on the matter.
“I do not know about that issue because the draft constitution is not yet out. Until such a time that we produce a draft, I will not give piecemeal information on single constitutional issues. And I am unwilling to comment until the draft has been produced,” he said.
In October last year, Tsvangirai caused a furore when he told the BBC that he supports the protection of gays and lesbians in the new constitution.
Mugabe, on the other hand, has dismissed this possibility, claiming that “the ancestors will turn in their graves should we allow this to happen”.