President Robert Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe has promised to make life even worse for gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe should his Zanu PF party win the upcoming elections.
According to News Day, the despot made the threat in a speech at a graduation ceremony at the Roman Catholic Church-run Bondolfi Teachers’ College.
“We do not have a culture of men marrying men or women marrying women. We cannot accept it, no, no, no. These things are taboo in our society,” said Mugabe.
“Some rape minors they are entrusted with in a short space of time, maybe it is for juju. We regret this is happening, big men do it. What is getting into our society?” he asked.
“After the polls, we will strengthen the law and make it really punitive and bitterly punishable for such people,” threatened Mugabe.
“At the moment, they get something like three months’ imprisonment. They should rot in jail… We want a nation guided by strong values, we cannot give up our values for money,” he added.
Mugabe’s homophobic rant will dampen hopes that LGBT people in Zimbabwe could be given some legal protection following the recent adoption of the country’s new constitution.
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) warned that the president’s words indicate that he “will pull the gay card to drum up support for his party and himself” in the run up to the elections.
GALZ Director Chesterfield Samba said: “Zanu PF’s instruments of intimidation and electioneering which include the subject of gays remains as strong as ever and is once again being used as a red herring for the real woes in this country around good governance.”
The organisation said that “it has become customary for the president to attempt to whip up a climate of hysterical homophobia against LGBT people before, during and after elections”.
Samba added: “Such outbursts have done much to highlight the dictatorial tendencies of his regime and the difficulties facing LGBT people throughout Zimbabwe and in Africa.”
The organisation claimed that violence against the LGBT community had in the past been inspired by anti-gay government propaganda.
Recently, five armed men attacked GALZ staff and board members at its national office in Harare.
Despite the men being arrested by the Police, GALZ is yet to be advised of when the men will appear in court. GALZ said that this was “raising fears that these were indeed youth militia acting on such careless propaganda”.
Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe. It remains to be seen if the courts will rule on whether this is now in conflict with the new constitution.
Mugabe has previously said that gay people are “worse than pigs and dogs” and that they “don’t have any human rights at all”.