Last edited: December 05, 2004

Banana Appeals Conviction in ZIM

Planet Out News: In the Courts, March 6, 2000 (excerpt)

PlanetOut News Staff

Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments March 6 as the nation’s first post-colonial President Canaan Banana appealed his conviction and sentence on a number of counts of sexual assaults against men, including an argument for decriminalization of consensual homosexual acts. Banana was accused of eleven assaults against nine victims, ranging from one interaction the court believed to be consensual to another in which he drugged his victim and raped him while unconscious; he was sentenced to serve one year if he paid compensation and abided by other terms by which another nine years were suspended.

Zimbabwe law makes no distinction between consensual homosexual acts and male-male rape, and Banana’s lawyers are claiming that in the case of the allegedly consensual act, the law itself should be struck down. Their primary argument was that there was inadequate evidence to back up the testimony of the victims. Most of the assaults occurred at the presidential palace during Banana’s 1980 - 1987 Presidency, against bodyguards and others who served under him there. Banana, 64, a distinguished international diplomat as well as a professor of religion, an ordained minister, and a long-married father of four, has always flatly denied all the charges. He was not present for the appeal hearing because he is undergoing treatment for cancer in South Africa.

The case was luridly portrayed in the state-controlled media, despite more than three decades of political alliance between Banana and Zimbabwe’s notoriously homophobic President Robert Mugabe. Allegations against Banana first came to light in 1997, when one of his victims was on trial for the shooting death a colleague who teased him for being "Banana’s wife."

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