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.
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.
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