President Robert Mugabe
Adding to the plight of LGBT people on the continent, Robert Mugabe has used the occasion of his 90th birthday to once again attack gays and lesbians.
On Sunday, the Zimbabwean President celebrated his birthday with a massive bash in Marondera, east of Harare, estimated to have cost around $1 million.
Confirming that his advanced age has not diminished his disdain for sexual minorities, Mugabe said: “God made men and women so they can bear children.”
He went on tell the crowd that gays and lesbians “misuse” their God-given sex organs. “Use your organs properly. If you use them improperly, they will reject you and say ah, you have misused us,” he ranted.
It’s not the first time Mugabe has marked his birthday with anti-gay statements. In 2012, he said gay rights would never be accepted in Zimbabwe and told the youth: “You don’t have the freedom for men to marry men and women to marry women. You have the freedom for men to marry women. That’s God’s freedom.”
The homophobic leader, who has already been in power for an astonishing 33 years, last year 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 their 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.
Mugabe has famously previously stated that gay people are “worse than pigs and dogs” and that they “don’t have any human rights at all”.
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, which bans gay marriage but backs other civil liberties.
However, thanks to his party’s sweeping victory in the elections, Mugabe now has a sufficient majority to make changes to the constitution if the unjust laws were to be challenged.