'Evil' gays are no closer to freedom in Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF has described  homosexuality as "evil". (AFP)

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF has described homosexuality as "evil". (AFP)

President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF  has described  homosexuality as "evil".

In its 108-page pre-election manifesto, Zanu-PF brags that it managed to block the evils of homosexuality by criminalising same-sex marriage in the new Constitution: "The party was vigilant throughout the constitution-making exercise to guard against treachery and to protect the process from being hijacked by foreign or regime change interests. More importantly ... the constitution enshrines provisions ...
that not only guarantee that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again but which also protect the values and dignity of the people against evils such as homosexuality."

The manifesto argues that everyone must join "Team Zanu-PF": "Team Zanu-PF has something for everyone.

Zanu-PF understands that for the people's goals to be won and defended, everybody must be part of the great team that liberated Zimbabwe … [that] defended Zimbabwe's traditional and religious values against such evils as homosexuality."

Zanu-PF's language incites violence towards opposition party supporters as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, yet it says "peace begins with me, peace begins with you", and it says it advocates nonviolence, freedom and democracy.

Zanu-PF describes non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as threats to the nation because of their "nefarious activities". This makes NGOs, especially those working on human rights issues, a target of harassment, arrests and raids.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in its 36-page manifesto, promises to transform Zimbabwe into a "modern, healthy, happy, functional, integrated, democratic and prosperous society that takes pride in leaving no one behind", but the party is woolly on sexual minorities: "The MDC will work for people. All the people, regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnic affiliation or political party."

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe expressed its concern over the effects of hate speech and state-sponsored homophobia: "State authorities have an obligation to address violence, both to investigate and punish those who attack others, but also to prevent abuse in the first place. The Zimbabwe Republic Police routinely turn a blind eye to the abuse and violence of LGBTI individuals, thus contributing to the overwhelming sense of impunity." – Miles Rutendo Tanhira

Miles Rutendo Tanhira is a journalist, human rights defender, LGBTI rights activist, peace activist and feminist

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