How the church oppresses Zimbabwe’s faithful LGBTs

Fourth of four articles about the treatment of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe.

Former bishop Nolbert Kunonga (Photo courtesy of Sokwanele.com)
Former bishop Nolbert Kunonga (Photo courtesy of Sokwanele.com)

Religion is both the oppressor and the consolation of many LGBTI people in Zimbabwe,  says a newly released report from the advocacy group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, or GALZ.  The report said:

Without doubt one of the main issues facing LGBTI people in Zimbabwe is opposition from religious institutions. Paradoxically, however, the very source of discrimination for many LGBTI individuals is also their main source of comfort and inspiration.

Although it can be a lifelong struggle, many LGBTI people of all faiths do manage to reconcile even the most homophobic religious traditions with their sexual orientation.

When prominent religious leaders, such as those in the Anglican Church, denounce homosexuality, that “has a negative effect on LGBTI individuals seeking to connect spiritually with their faith,” GALZ said.

News media extend the reach of religious leaders who vilify homosexuals, GALZ said:

Media, all too often, plays a role in promoting the hard line, religious fundamentalist viewpoint through offering “Opinion” features to homophobic religious leaders and by promoting unquestioned beliefs as truth in articles about homosexuality.

Anti-gay clergy even vie with each other to see which one is more extreme. The report said:

In an internal disagreement between Harare bishops, the main issue became whether or not a church officials had ‘taken a stance’ on homosexuality, and whether this stance was extreme enough (that is, advocating the murder of LGBTI individuals).

Rowan WIlliams, Archbishop of Canterbury (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Rowan WIlliams, Archbishop of Canterbury (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A less extreme Zimbabwean religious dispute over homosexuality was reported this month by the Voice of America. The news service reported:

The Archbishop of Canterbury met [last week] with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and asked him to intervene to halt attacks on Anglicans in Zimbabwe by a breakaway sect led by the ex-communicated former Harare Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Kunonga is an ardent supporter of Mugabe whose supporters have taken control of church property and expelled church staff. Kunonga claims that the Anglican Church is in favor of homosexuality.

Archbishop Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion, including the Anglican Church of Uganda, did not approve same-sex marriage or the ordination of homosexual priests, VOA reported.  (The Anglican Communion is currently divided about the actions of its member churches in United States, Canada and elsewhere that have approved blessings of same-sex unions and ordination of gay and lesbian priests and bishops.)

Before the archbishop’s visit, Kunonga called Williams “a British civil servant” who represents neocolonialism.  The goal of his visit was to promote homosexuality, Kunonga said.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. 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 at info@76crimes.com.

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