Misleading headlines in the media have suggested that LGBT Zimbabweans have stopped fighting for equality.
The original report by New Zimbabwe featured the headline: “Gays Give Up Fight for Same Sex Marriages, Say Zimbabwe Not Yet Ready.”
That article’s content was repeated by numerous other outlets around the world under the headline of: “Homosexuality – Zimbabwean Gays ‘Give Up’.”
The source report claims that, “Gays and lesbians have given up their push for same-sex marriages in the country, admitting it was near impossible to convince a highly conservative society and its rulers to accept the practice.”
This despite repeated assertions, included in the very same article, by Chester Samba, Director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz), that activists have not even sought same-sex marriage rights in Zimbabwe in the first place.
The Zimbabwe government has also previously claimed that European nations have pressured it to accept marriage equality; a claim that is patently untrue.
“We haven’t given up neither have we taken on the campaign for same-sex marriage; it is misleading and mainly serves a political purpose,” Samba told Mambaonline in response to the articles.
He added that he still remains hopeful “that the LGBTI community in Zimbabwe will realise equality and move away from rights that are not conceptual in nature”.
Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution expressly bans same-sex marriage but does otherwise provide protections of civil liberties and human rights.
In a statement, Galz asserted that it “is focused on more important priorities of survival and the fight against political and social intolerance of gender and sexual difference . Same-sex marriage may be furthest from the minds of most LGBTI people in the rest of Africa who still suffer the basic humiliations of oppressive laws, social stigma and propaganda spewed out by our political and religious leaders.”
While marriage equality is not even a consideration at this point, Samba has not ruled out possible future legal action to challenge the constitutionality of laws banning same-sex intimacy, which carry penalties of up to three years in jail.
“We are working on a carefully sequenced litigation strategy that takes into account factors such as public awareness and support, constitutional provisions, timing and other political factors that are likely to impact on prospects,” he said.