Election season in Zimbabwe means gay-bashing time

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As surely as the sun rises in the east, election season in Zimbabwe brings with it a spate of gay-bashing speeches from President Robert Mugabe.

His latest attack, on July 5, was reported by New Zimbabwe under the headline “Conceive or face jail, Mugabe tells gays.”

With the approach of the election, currently scheduled for July 31, Mugabe seeks to improve his popularity by attacking the small, powerless and widely despised LGBT population of Zimbabwe. Mugabe has repeatedly referred to gays and lesbians as “worse than pigs and dogs.”

In mid-June, he said he would make the country a “hell” for gays and lesbians if his Zanu PF party wins the election. He proposed life sentences for homosexual activity, saying that the current law, which provides for up to a year in jail, is too lenient.

In the speech on July 5, Mugabe “challenged people involved in same sex relationships to fall pregnant and produce children, failing which they should face jail,” the government-owned Herald reported.

The Herald also claimed that the opposition party, the MDC, “tried to smuggle homosexuality into the new Constitution and were only stopped by Zanu-PF vigilance. However, Zanu-PF triumphed and the new Constitution is clear that marriage shall be between people of opposite sex and of legally acceptable age.”

That is a Zanu-PF version of a debate about whether the constitution should include a prohibition on discrimination against minorities.  The MDC favored such a provision for a while, but changed its position under pressure.

LGBTQ Nation reported:

Samba Chesterfield, chair of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), said that the president was politicizing an anti-gay campaign, potentially making an already bad situation worse, and called for him “to desist from making such hate filled statements that impact on the lives of LGBT people.”

“Mugabe needs to deal with issues such as unemployment, impunity, access to clean water and corruption in government, rather than such rhetoric that does not do much to win over a despondent electorate,” said Chesterfield.

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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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