MORGAN TSVANGIRAI FLIP-FLOPS ON GAY RIGHTS

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai

Based on new comments opposing same-sex marriage, Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai appears to have reverted to his anti-gay views.

According to the country’s Herald newspaper, Tsvangirai “denounced homosexuality during a meeting in Harare” on Wednesday night.

Addressing MDC-T supporters at Glen View New Hall, he said marriages should be between a man and a woman, reported the newspaper.

Tsvangirai was quoted as saying: “In the draft constitution, we said marriage is between a man and a woman and those who want to marry another from the same sex, then they have a problem. Why do you want to sleep with another man?”

Tsvangirai’s views on the subject of homosexuality seem to change according to who he’s speaking to. He’s been quoted both as supporting gay rights as well as opposing them.

In March 2010, the prime minister said at a women’s day event that he backed President Mugabe’s notoriously homophobic stance on the matter and asserted: “Never, I don’t accept that culture”.

Speaking to the BBC in October 2011, however, he stated: “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. To me, it’s a human right.”

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) said in statement that Tsvangirai’s latest comments “are reckless and unfortunate”.

The organisation accused him of fuelling “public prejudice against LGBTI individuals,” “advocating hatred and hate speech on the LGBTI community in Zimbabwe” and contradicting the draft constitution that he is promoting.

“It is our view that political leaders in Zimbabwe continue to pander to public prejudices against LGBTI individuals through public statements that justify exclusion and abuse of anyone suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex,” said GALZ.

Under current laws, gay sex, as well as members of the same sex holding hands, hugging or kissing, are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail.

Despite otherwise affirming the human rights of all Zimbabweans, the final draft of the new Zimbabwean constitution specifically bars gay and lesbian marriages.

In Clause 3, Section 78 (Marriage rights), under “Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms”, the constitution states: “Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other.”

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