President Robert Mugabe and other politicians in Zimbabwe have been accused of inciting hate against LGBT people.
There were 49 reported anti-gay incidents in Zimbabwe over a 12 month period, but the real number could be much higher.
According to a report released by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) this week, the incidents include 42 violations against individuals and seven recorded incidents of hate speech by public officials.
The reports aims to “detail how in Zimbabwe, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people endure hate-motivated violence, abuse, detention, criminalisation and discrimination in jobs, health care and other places because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Glaz said that the report outlines cases of human rights violations perpetrated against LGBT people in the period 2012-2013, and that the sample is largely drawn from the greater Harare area. This suggests that the actual number of anti-gay incidents across the country were much higher.
The violations experienced fall into ten broad categories of assault, threats, outing, detention, discrimination, disownment, hate speech, invasion of privacy, police harassment and blackmail.
Assault, threats and police harassment were the top three forms of violations experienced by the LGBT complainants. Seventy-five percent of the complainants were male, 22 percent were female and 3 percent were transgender.
The report states that experience of one violation by a complainant often resulted in other violations and that emerging cases of invasion of privacy indicate “a critical need for digital security literacy among the LGBT community.”
Galz noted that a number of complainants experienced discrimination in state-funded health care facilities simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
It also warned that there is a disturbing trend of police harassment wherein individuals are harassed after having participated in LGBT public events.
It also emerged that many violations frequently go unreported because victims do not trust police, are afraid of reprisals or are unwilling to identify themselves as LGBT.
“From the cases documented in this report, it emerges that a lot of the violations perpetrated against LGBT people are driven by homophobia emanating from society’s conservative cultures; strong and sometimes extremist and fundamentalist religious beliefs as well as influence from utterances made by political and other influential leaders,” said Galz.
The organisation recently condemned the ongoing use of the word “gay” by the country’s politicians to insult one another. President Robert Mugabe has also 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.