Zimbabwe Gays Force Themselves on President Mnangagwa

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THE Zimbabwean gay community said Emmerson Mnangagwa led Zanu PF should conduct a hate speech free election campaign, if the new President was democratic and different from his predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

Samba Chesterfield, Director of Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe, prepares to hoist their offical flag alongside the Zimbabwean flag during belated comemoration of International Day against Xenophobia and Transphobia in Harare, Saturday, May, 19, 2012.Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has often called on for the Gays and Lesbians to be punished for their behaviour which he said was worse than pigs and dogs.The Gay Community officially erected a rainbow flag alongside the Zimbabwean flag at their premises calling it a symbol of hope for the Future(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

GALZ director Chester Samba presented the challenge to Mnangagwa in a statement to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia which is celebrated on 17 May.

Unlike his predecessor, President Mnangagwa since ascending to the highest post in the land has been saying that he respects human rights.

Samba who this time did not mention any harassment of his members by the new Harare administration as was the case during Mugabe’s era said they were going to be convinced that Zanu PF had changed and now respected human rights if the ruling party did not denounce gays during the election campaign period.

“The lesson Zimbabweans have been well taught by 37 years of Zanu PF governance under Robert Mugabe is that democracy does not lie solely in majority rule. Certain fundamental principles must be adhered to beyond regular elections,” said Samba.

“The elections must take place under conditions where freedom of speech and expression are respected, the right to life and liberty are preserved, and there is equality before the law and freedom from discrimination. Freedom from discrimination and equality before the law imply minority rights. Without these, tyranny of the majority prevails. Accordingly, any constitutional democracy should bind itself to these fundamental principles,” he said.

Mugabe, who was ousted by the military in November last year, used to denounce gays whenever he got to the podium.

As a result of Mugabe anti-gay statements members of GALZ were routinely subjected to physical assaults by Zanu PF sympathizers including state security agents who would raid them at private events.

“As GALZ we realise that there needs to be a fundamental change in Zimbabwe’s political culture. The change involves an acceptance that those opposed to one’s policies, who hold different opinions or who are simply different, are not enemies. They deserve equal protection of the law and freedom from violence and discrimination.

The building of this new political culture requires determined leadership, leaders who direct their constituents away from the past politics of discrimination and intolerance, leaders who reject attempts to gain votes through hate speech and cheap populism by inciting and exacerbating prejudice against those who are different,” said Samba.

“GALZ believes that leaders in Zimbabwe, whether politicians, members of civil society or church leaders, have a duty to lead Zimbabwe towards a new and democratic order. A fully democratic order is one that abandons the politics of hatred and intolerance; it is one that abandons unfair discrimination against any group, regardless of how popular or unpopular the group may be in society,” he said.