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Zimbabwe police raid office, arrest 44 gay activists

GALZ website
GALZ website

Police in Zimbabwe yesterday raided the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe and arrested 44 of the LGBT rights group’s members.

The 31 men and 13 women were held overnight at the Harare central police station and released this morning, the group said. No charges were filed against them.

Four police officers with backup from 15 riot squad officers assaulted most of the GALZ members using batons, open hands and fists, the group.

Zimbabwean human rights lawyers were not allowed to see them while they were in police custody, Gay Star News reported.

The raid came as members gathered at the GALZ office to hear a report about legal violations in Zimbabwe and a briefing about the latest draft proposal for a new Zimbabwe constitution.

Zimbabwe's location in southern Africa
Zimbabwe’s location in southern Africa

In a statement, GALZ deplored the police action. It said:

Denying Zimbabweans the right to participate in processes that complement national efforts is an infringement of the right to freedom of assembly and association. It is the constitutional obligation of state agencies to uphold all the rights of citizens under the Declaration of Rights.

GALZ calls on the state to immediately refrain from the use of any form of organised violence and to refrain from utilising violence of any sort in the pursuit of their political interests.

GALZ does not condone violence and we are not a threat. Those who cause violence are a threat to public safety and security and we ask that they stay away from our premises.

Male homosexual activity is illegal in Zimbabwe and punishable by up to a year in prison.

Since 2006, the Zimbabwean law against sodomy has been defined as applying to any “act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act,” which criminalized even holding hands, hugging, or kissing, Gay Star News reported.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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