Zimbabwe LGBT Advocates’ Trial Dates Set

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2010

Three weeks ago, we reported that two Zimbabwe LGBT advocates were arrested and tortured by police following a raid on the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). Police claim to have found “pornographic material” in the offices along with a letter from former San Francisco mayor Willy Brown praising GALZ and denouncing President Mugabe for his opposition to LGBT rights. That led to new charges of “undermining the authority of the President.” Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi were finally released nearly a week later, but were prohibited from travelling more than 40 kilometers outside of Harare.

Today, we received this message from GALZ director Chester Samba:

The two GALZ employees appeared in court on 10 June 2010 and had their trial dates set for 30thJune 2010 (Ignatius Mhambi) and 1 July 2010 (Ellen Chademana).

The state appears to have separated the two’s appearance based on the premise that Ignatius will be charged for possession of a pornographic DVD and Ellen for “pornographic material”.

We would like to believe that since the state has set their trial date, they have concluded investigations on the case; however we remain cautious in our interpretation of today’s outcome in light of continued harassment of Human rights defenders in general.

We continue to monitor the situation around the case as well as for the other staff members.

We thank you for your continued support during this period.

Chester’s home was raided on May 26. Police reportedly confiscated his birth certificate, passport, magazines and business cards. Chester was not at home at the time of the raid.

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