Breaking! Zimbabwe gays attacked at end-of-year party

President Robert Mugabe has been accused of inciting hate against LGBT people.

President Robert Mugabe has been accused of inciting hate against LGBT people.

Members of Zimbabwe’s gay community have been brutally beaten and assaulted by unknown assailants while celebrating the festive season.

According to a report from Galz (Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe), the organisation was hosting its end-of-year party and drag contest at a private venue in Harare on Friday when the incident took place.

At around 11.20pm, shortly after the drag show ended, 12 to 15 men in three vehicles forced their way into the venue. One of the occupants of the vehicles produced a pistol and threatened the security team manning the gate.

Galz said that the men entered the hall and started beating party-goers, including five Galz staff members, with logs, iron bars, empty beer bottles and their fists. The men also demanded cash and personal items from the victims.

Panicked revellers fled for the exits, some hiding in bushes outside and in the gardens of nearby homes. Others were reportedly chased down by the men in their vehicles.

By 4am, at least eight people had been treated at a local private clinic for various wounds, cuts and bruises sustained during the attack. An additional 12 had received treatment by the end of the following day.

While Galz has been subjected to police attacks before, the organisation said that it did not believe that these attackers were members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. The group speculated that the men may have been linked to patrons of the venue who were not happy with its closure for a private function.

The police have visited the scene and have asked Galz to compile details of the assaults and stolen or lost items. Those injured have all been discharged and are recovering at home.

“We would like to thank our community for the support you provided each other during this ordeal, through transport, checking in, hospital visits, alerts, and your presence,” said Galz.

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.

In December 2013, five members of Galz were arrested and beaten at a Christmas party in Bulawayo for wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “same love”.

Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe has openly attacked and vilified gays and lesbians for years and in March promised to further crack down on the community and Galz in particular.

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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