Friday, March 26, 2010

Zimbabwe / Africa / Persecution of Homosexuals

Zimbabwe Shrugs Off Gay Rights
By Barry Bearak and Alan Cowell
The New York Times, March 26, 2010
"Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, said Thursday that any thought of putting gay rights in the nation's new constitution was 'madness,' and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who often disputes almost everything Mr. Mugabe says, this time seemed to agree. Both men were appearing at a belated celebration of International Women's Day in a suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. The pro-Mugabe state-run news media in Zimbabwe reported Friday that the president was scornful of the very idea of gay rights, which the 86-year-old president said would make the nation's ancestors 'turn in their graves.' Mr. Tsvangirai's response, according to the news media, was, 'Why should a man seek to have a relationship with another man when women make up 52 percent of the population?' Mr. Mugabe's comments were unsurprising. In the past he has described homosexuals as behaving 'worse than pigs and dogs.' Gay bashing is one of his enduring themes. Mr. Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has won international awards for championing human rights. He was considered among the favorites to win last year’s Nobel Peace Prize. ... Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, but gay rights organizations have been allowed to operate openly. In nearby Malawi, such groups can work only clandestinely. Two gay men there could face 14 years in prison after they were arrested for holding an engagement party in December. Homophobia is the norm throughout Africa. In Uganda, a lawmaker has proposed harsh penalties for homosexuality, including the death penalty in some circumstances. In Kenya last month, the police broke up a gay wedding and arrested many of the guests; the police intervened, they said, to keep an irate mob from killing the participants. [...]"

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