Last edited: August 05, 2004

Gays Flee Zimbabwe Mob, August 4, 2004

by Newscenter Staff

Harare—A group of gay Zimbabweans was forced to flee for their lives when an angry mob chased them from an international book fair in the capital, Harare. Several of the group were physically attacked.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe but the government sponsored Zimbabwe International Book Fair allowed the Gay and Lesbian Association to participate at this year’s event after the High Court ruled that the association had the right to exhibit.

The court ruling infuriated Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe who peppers most speeches with anti-gay insults. It is believed the mob, armed with sticks, was made up of Mugabe supporters on the government’s payroll.

Mugabe frequently describes gays as “as worse than dogs and pigs”.

“I’m morally repulsed by homosexuality,” Mugabe told a dinner in March celebrating his 80th birthday.

“It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam, Eve and Eve,” he said. “Let us never entertain the theory that man and man can form a family.”

British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has for several years attempted to have Mugabe arrested for crimes against humanity. The Zimbabwe president is accused of inciting “anti-gay hatred”.

In 2001 when he tried to have Mugabe arrested in Brussels, Belgium where the Zimbabwe leader was meeting with European Union officials, Tatchell was beaten by the Mugabe’s bodyguards.

In January a British court turned down a bid by Tatchell to have an arrest warrant issued for Mugabe accusing him of crimes against humanity. In a 52 page brief Tatchell outlined a regime of brutality, homophobia, and repression of civil rights. The court refused saying under international law a sitting head of government cannot be arrested.

The Zimbabwe International Book Fair Wednesday said that it “regretted” the attack on the gay participants at the fair.

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