Galz Director Chesterfield Samba
Five members of Zimbabwe’s LGBT rights group have been arrested and beaten at an end of year Christmas party in Bulawayo.
According to Southern Eye, the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) activists were attending the function at a hotel in the city.
It appears that the five were targeted by the police because they were wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “same love”.
“Two suffered serious injuries,” said Galz Director Chesterfield Samba.
“The five arrested were charged with public indecency under the Miscellaneous Offences Act and were made to pay $10 fines each before being released on the same night,” he added.
Bolstered by President Robert Mugabe’s tirades against gays and lesbians, Galz has been repeatedly intimidated and harassed by the authorities over the years.
Earlier in December, the chairperson of Galz, Martha Tholanah, was ordered to appear in court on a charge of running an “unregistered” organisation.
The charge followed a raid on the Galz office on 20 August 2012; one of two raids last year for which the police appeared to have no grounds.
The authorities claim that Galz has been operating in contravention of Section 6 (iii) of the Private Voluntary Organisation Act. Galz has denied the charge.
Should Tholanah be found guilty, Galz – which was founded in 1990 – could be fined or face forced closure.
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. Same sex marriage is also illegal under the country’s recently adopted constitution.