GALZ staff

Formal complaints have been lodged with the United Nations and the African Union over the continued harassment of members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ).

The complaints were laid by the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) together with, and on behalf of GALZ.

The submissions to the UN and AU Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders follows recurring violations against GALZ members in recent weeks.

The latest incidents began on 11 August with the beating, arrest and detention, without charge, of 44 GALZ members and the confiscation of human rights reports and advocacy materials. This was followed more recently by the arrest of its principal officers Martha Tholanah and Sam Matsikure on 24 August.

GALZ was then forced to shut down its Harare office after it was charged by the Zimbabwe authorities with running an “unregistered” organisation.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders has a mandate to receive, examine and respond to information on the situation of human rights defenders around the world and to enhance their protection from human rights violations. The African Union Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has a similar mandate within Africa.

Both Special Rapporteurs have acknowledged receipt of the complaints and are examining the matter, said AMSHeR.

Earlier this week, the New York based Human Rights Watch wrote to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe calling for them to immediately stop persecuting members of GALZ.

The organisation said that the actions taken against GALZ show “the government’s intolerance of the rights of Zimbabwe’s sexual and gender minorities” and are a violaton of “their rights to freedom of expression and association”.

The Unites States has also formally condemned the incidents.

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