Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s proudly homophobic president, has lashed out at gay people during his inauguration speech on Thursday in Harare.

Mugabe, who seems obsessed by the issue, said that young people should reject homosexuality just as his government has done.

“We hope you damn as much as we damn the doctrine that man can marry man and woman can marry a woman,” he said. “Let’s not go against nature.”

He warned that homosexuality “destroys nations, apart from it being a filthy, filthy disease,” he said.

Few regional leaders attended Thursday’s event, with President Jacob Zuma being conspicuously absent.

The 89-year-old, who has already been in power for an astonishing 33 years, recently won another term in a controversial national election.

Ahead of the vote, Mugabe displayed his crass sexism and homophobia in a number of campaign speeches. He attacked retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South Africa for its support for LGBT equality.

Mugabe also promised to “deal with” gay people and threatened to tighten current sentences against them so that they will “rot in jail” if he was elected.

Under current laws, gay sex and members of the same sex holding hands, hugging or kissing are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail. These laws may be in conflict with the country’s newly adopted constitution, but this has yet to be tested in court.

However, thanks to his party’s sweeping victory in the elections, it now has a sufficient majority to make changes to the constitution.

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