Gays Seek Legal Recognition In Zimbabwe
France-Press, October 24, 1999
HARARE Homosexuals in Zimbabwe on Sunday called for the legal recognition of
same-sex relationships. They sought the inclusion of a clause on sexual orientation in the
African country's new constitution, which is now being drafted.
Representatives of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) made the appeal to a
special session of a commission appointed by President Robert Mugabe to draft a new
constitution to replace the British-authored one adopted at independence in 1980.
Homosexuality is a particularly controversial subject in Zimbabwe because Mugabe has
frequently attacked gays as "beasts," "perverts" and "worse than
dogs and pigs", saying homosexuality was un-African.
"I am asking for the ... inclusion of a sexual orientation clause in the new
constitution. This is not a special right but just an acknowledgment of the existence of
gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in Zimbabwe," said Chesterfield
Zamba, a gay.
Keith Goddard, program manager of GALZ, told some 400 government-appointed
commissioners that homosexuals in the country lived in fear of discrimination, and that
their constitutional recognition would guarantee they enjoyed the same rights and
protection automatically accorded to heterosexuals.
The legal recognition of homosexuals would also help "combat homophobia and hate
crimes" and "put an end to state prosecution and harassment."
"A sexual orientation clause in the new constitution does not mean the slippery
slope down toward the acceptance of bestiality, or the sexual abuse of children
(pedophilia), or sex in the streets or sex with dead bodies or rape," Goddard
"We are asking for the recognition of consensual same-sex relations between two
consenting adults in private," he said. Sodomy is a crime in Zimbabwe, even between
consenting adults, and carries a possible jail sentence.
Commissioners booed and tried to disrupt the speeches, until the chairman, Judge
Godfrey Chidyausiku, intervened to restrain them, saying the gays had the right to be
heard and be respected.
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