President Robert Mugabe
According to the Zimbabwean media, President Robert Mugabe may be planning to introduce an anti-gay law similar to the one enacted in Uganda last week.
The Herald reported on Monday that the proudly homophobic Zimbabwean leader proclaimed his support for the Ugandan law, which has been criticised by the US and European nations.
He described President Museveni’s crackdown on LGBT rights as “fighting a just fight” and rejected “the notion peddled by countries such as the United States that gay rights were human rights.”
Mugabe, who made the comments on Saturday at a cocktail party celebrating his daughter’s wedding, added: “In the Bible there is no wife who is described as a man. Husbands are husbands and wives are wives.”
Alarmingly, the newspaper wrote that Mugabe hinted “that Government will soon deal decisively with the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe [GALZ] which has been clamouring for recognition of ‘gay rights’ locally.”
“I understand we have a group of homosexuals in this country. I didn’t know until I was told the day before yesterday. So we want to check on who is in that group,” said Mugabe.
Founded in 1990, GALZ has been subjected to almost constant official harassment and intimidation, including police raids on its offices, arrests and beatings of its members and various legal battles.
Last month, it won a court challenge against it by the state which claimed that the group was being unlawfully operated.
The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act includes criminal penalties of five to seven years in prison for anyone who “promotes” homosexuality, a measure that could be applied to LGBT organisations or groups.
Last year, Mugabe threatened that if he won the elections (which he did) he would review and tighten current sentences imposed on gay people so that they will “rot in jail.”
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, as specified in the country’s recently adopted constitution.
Under the new Ugandan law, gays and lesbians face life sentences if found guilty of engaging in any kind of same-sex sexual intimacy.