President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s gay rights group has condemned the ongoing use of the word “gay” by the country’s politicians to insult one another.

The word has most recently been used by politicians from President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party in internal succession squabbles about who will run the organisation.

Last week, Zanu-PF MP Themba Mliswa slammed members of his party, including cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere.

“We will not allow the party to be run by gay gangsters. They are constantly loaded with money because the CIA funds them,” he said.

The director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), Chester Samba, slammed the latest homophobic outburst in an interview with New Zimbabwe, describing it as hate speech.

“We, as a community, are very concerned because it has implications on our community members who are then targeted on the very basis of such reckless statements that are made by people in authority as a way of getting at each other through hate speech,” he said.

Samba continued: “…You find the word gay now has certain connotations in that it characterises an image of an outcast in society, something that is undesirable, someone who is not really [worthy as] an individual.

“…So in Zimbabwe, the word gay is now fully turning into a derogatory word as how it has been embraced by our politicians.”

President Mugabe has previously stated that gay people are “worse than pigs and dogs” and that they “don’t have any human rights at all.”

Gay sex and public affection are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail. Same-sex marriage is also illegal, as entrenched in the country’s Constitution.

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