Zimbabwe Police Raid Office of LGBT Advocacy Org
August 20th, 2012
Today at 1330 hours the Zimbabwe Republic Police came to the GALZ offices demanding entry. No members of staff were present at the time. No arrests have been made so far. The police have remained at the premises all afternoon and only produced a search warrant at 1830 hours.
Human rights lawyers have been present from 1530 hours and continuing engaging with the police officers. At the time of this alert, the police are still searching the offices in the presence of our lawyers. So far, as at 2100hours, we have been informed that the police intend to confiscate some booklets, pamphlets and computers from the offices that they have accessed so far.
According to a status update on Facebook, more than twenty police officers arrived in two trucks. This appears to be part of a larger crackdown on the LGBT advocacy group. Last Friday, GALZ reported that police were once again searching for 44 GALZ members who they arrested, beaten, then released without charge earlier in August. In a detailed report which has not been posted online, GALZ reported:
Four police officers attempted to gain entry into the GALZ premises shortly after the launch of the GALZ Violations Report and the briefieng of the Second Draft of the Zimbabwe Constitution done by the Crisis Coalition, advocacy committee Chairperson on Saturday 11 August 2012. About fifteen riot squad members descended on the office and effected arrest. Thirty one men and thirteen women members were detained overnight at Harare Central Police Station on 11 August 2012. Police, some of them visibly drunk, assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge. Police denied lawyers access to all 44, however they released all 44 on Sunday 12 August without charge.
…Members were beaten, verbally abused, and were forced to assault each other. Transgender people were verbally abused and their gender questioned. …
In 2010, Zimbabwe police launched a raid on GALZ’s offices and arrested two employees. The offense: they had a signed photo and statement from former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown denouncing Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe’s stand on homosexuality and praising GALZ’s work. The two activists were held by police for six days before being released on bail. The activists allege that they were beaten and tortured by police while in custody. They were found not guilty of charges of possessing porn.
President Robert Mugabe’s government has a long history of homophobic policies. Mugabe has attacked homosexuality as foreign to African culture, and famously described LGBT people as “worse than dogs and pigs.” Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for violating the nation’s colonial-era law.
UK To Cut Aid To Countries Which Persecute Gay People
October 10th, 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that countries which persecute gay people will find their foreign aid budget cut. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell also told the Daily Mail that Britain has already cut aid to Malawi over it abuse of human right violation, citing the country’s conviction of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a same-sex couple who entered into a traditional engagement ceremony in violation of that nation’s anti-sodomy laws.
Mitchell’s comments however don’t quite line up with the chain of events in Malawi. The couple were pardoned by Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika in May, 2010. Earlier this year, a Wikileaks cable revealed that the British ambassador warned that Malawi’s President was becoming increasingly autocratic and intolerant of criticism. Mutharika responded by expelling the ambassador while violently cracking down on dissent in the impoverished nation, thereby proving the ambassador’s point. Britain began cutting aid to Malawi in July 2011.
Malawi received about £200 million from Britain over the past three years, before Britain announced cuts of £19 million.
Mitchell also cited Uganda (which is due to received £70 million this year) and Ghana (which received £36 million each year) as possible targets for future cuts if they enact further criminal legislation against gay people. No mention was made of Zimbabwe, which received £69 million last year.
United Nations Restores Sexual Orientation To Resolution Condeming Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions
December 22nd, 2010
The United Nations General Assembly yesterday succeeded in restoring “sexual orientation” to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. The category of sexual orientation had been removed last month as a result of an Arab and African proposal. Yesterday’s 93-55 vote (with 27 abstentions) approved an American proposal to reinsert “sexual orientation” back into the resolution. The resolution was then passed with 122 yes votes, none against and 59 abstentions.
The UN passes a resolution every two years condemning extrajudicial killings. The 2008 version included a reference to sexual orientation. Zimbabwe’s U.N. Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa harshly condemned its re-insertion into the 2010 resolution:
We will not have it foisted on us,” he said. “We cannot accept this, especially if it entails accepting such practices as bestiality, pedophilia and those other practices many societies would find abhorrent in their value systems.
“In our view, what adult people do in their private capacity by mutual consent does not need agreement or rejection by governments, save where such practices are legally proscribed,” Chitsaka said.
Paul Canning, who has an extensiverundown of the vote, reports that one-third of African countries either supported the American proposal to reintroduce “sexual orientation” into the resolution or abstained from voting, representing a change from their votes last month removing the clause. He also notes that almost all of the Caribbean, including Jamaica, also changed their votes as well. Canning noted the Rwandan ambassador’s “yes” vote:
In the debate at the UN the most moving contribution was from the Rwandan delegate who said that a group does not need to be “legally defined” to be targeted for massacres and referenced his countries experience. “We can’t continue to hide our heads in the sand” he said.”These people have a right to life.”
Gay Zimbabweans Arrested
December 20th, 2010
Two men in Zimbabwe have been arrested this week and charged with sodomy, after being caught “in the act” by their landlady, according to New Zimbabwe. Nigel Ruredzo, 28, and Shine Njawara, 29, pleaded guilty before a Bindura magistrate. The two were caught when the house’s owner and another tenant were awakened by “strange noises” coming from the room. The trial is scheduled for December 29. Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe under a law that was carried over from colonial times. Conviction brings a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment.
Zimbabwean LGBT Advocate Found Not Guilty of Porn Charges
July 26th, 2010
Ignatius Muhambi, an accountant for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), who was arrested with fellow GALZ advocate Ellen Chademana during the raid last May, was found not guilty of possessing pornography. Muhambi’s lawyer Jeremiah Bamu, told AFP. “The prosecution failed to establish a case against him at the close of their submissions on Friday and the magistrate acquitted him.” Prosecutors have never described the nature of the allegedly “indecent material.”
Buhambi and Chademana were arrested in May and held in police detention for a full week before they were finally released on bail. The two allegedly suffered torture while in policy custody. Initially the pair was also accused of insulting Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, but that charge was never formally filed. Chademana is expected to appear in court separately on Monday.
Mugabe: Yes to Polygamy, No to Gay Rights
July 18th, 2010
Today, Radio Voice of the People reported that Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe spoke before an Apostolic christian church and reiterated his support for the church’s established practice of polygamy:
Our Constitution allows polygamy. We will not force people into monogamous marriages. It’s there even in the bible – Solomon was not only given wealth but many wives,” said Mugabe who had children with current wife Grace while former first lady Sally Mugabe was still alive. He said the apostolic sect therefore had a right to be polygamous.
Meanwhile, Mugabe also reiterated his comparison of LGBT people to “dogs and pigs”:
“Today, the Anglican Church condones marriages between men and the same for women. The Archbishop of Canterbury is blessing such marriages – that is similar to dog behavior.
“At some point, I realised that I was reprimanding blameless dogs and pigs, which are aware that marriage is for procreation.
“We say no to gays! We will not listen to those advocating the inclusion of their rights in the constitution,” charged Mugabe.
Two Zimbabwean LGBT advocates are awaiting trial after having been detained and tortured by police following a raid on Gay and Lesbians Zimbabwe (GLAZ)’s headquarters. Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi were arrested and charged with possessing “pornography.” The nature of the alleged “pornography” (anything gay-positive can be seen as “pornographic” in some countries) has not been disclosed.
Zimbabwe LGBT Advocate Pleads Not Guilty
July 5th, 2010
Ignatius Muhambi, an accountant for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of possessing pornography before a magistrates court in Harare. Muhambi and Ellen Chademana were arrested in May during a police raid on GALZ headquarters. Both were freed on bail after nearly a week in custody during which they underwent torture by police.
Zimbabwe bans gay activist from visiting US
June 18th, 2010
In May, the police raided the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and arrested two staffers on “pornography” charges and for “undermining the authority of the President”. The raid and arrest appear to have stemmed from a letter sent to GALZ from former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown which was critical of President Mugabe’s campaign against the rights of gay and lesbian Zimbabweans. They were released on May 25, and have court dates in on June 30 and July 1.
One of the staffers, Ellen Chademana, had scheduled a trip to the United States prior to her arrest to take part in a training seminar. She was to leave today and return on June 28, in time for her trial.
But ZimOnline is reporting that the state has revoked the order of the court.
The state on Thursday barred a Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) staffer from travelling to the United States (US) after invoking a section of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) to suspend an order granted by Harare Magistrate Don Ndirowei.
Lawyers for GALZ administrative assistant Ellen Chademana told ZimOnline on Friday that the state invoked Section 121 of the CPEA to suspend Ndirowei’s order granting temporary release of her passport and relaxation of reporting conditions to allow her to travel to the US for a six-day training course.
Zimbabwe LGBT Advocates’ Trial Dates Set
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.
Zimbabwe LGBT Activists Freed on Bail, Allege Police Torture
May 27th, 2010
According to multiple news reports, the two Zimbabwean LGBT activists who were arrested following a police raid on the headquarters of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) were released on bail today after having been held and tortured for six days on charges of possessing “pornographic material” and “insulting the office of the President.”
SW Radio Africa, an Zimbabwean exile shortwave station broadcasting from London, reports that GALZ administrator Ellen Chademana and accountant Ignatius Muhambi were tortured while in police custody:
David Hofisi told SW Radio Africa: “Our clients have complained of beatings and torture yesterday. They were beaten on the knees using coca cola bottles and forced into sitting positions without chairs.”
The lawyer said the police were trying to extract information from them relating to the membership of the gay rights group; “They also wanted to know where these members live and to know their partners.”
Hofisi also told SW Radio Africa, “We are working with our clients so that they can be medically examined so that we can pursue an action against the people who were responsible for the beatings and torture.”
Hofisi said that the police wanted to charge them with “possessing dangerous drugs,” but that charge was dropped for lack of evidence.
Radio VOP, another Zimbabwean exile shortwave station broadcasting from Madagascar, reports that Chademana and Muhambi were ordered to surrender their passports, and were prohibited from traveling for more than 40 kilometres outside Harare.
Meanwhile, SW Radio Africa also reports that police Wednesday raided the home of GALZ director Chesterfield Samba. Samba was not at home, but police confiscated his “birth certificate, passport, magazines and business cards.” This development appears to signal a widening police sweep of the country’s LGBT advocates. Sodomy is illegal in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe denounced gays as “worse than dogs and pigs.”
Chademana and Muhambi were released on US$200 bail and will go on trial on June 10. It’s unclear what penalties they will face with these charges.
African Newspaper Roundup: Homosexuality Not A Western Import, and Other “Horrors and Revulsions”
May 26th, 2010
When straight African writers offer opinions that homosexuality should not be harshly condemned, they are often constrained to politely concede the widespread condemnation of LGBT people throughout Africa. And part of the typical formula is to register their own personal disgust over the idea of gay sex. Janet Otieno, writing for the online Africa Review out of Kenya avoids the latter part of the formula and counters the oft-told argument that homosexuality is an un-African western import. Not true, she says:
Further evidence for the existence of homosexuality is that pre-colonial African ethnic groups ascribed tribal classifications to gay people.
Certain tribes in pre-colonial Burkina Faso and South Africa regarded lesbians as astrologers and traditional healers, while a number of tribal groups in Cameroon and Gabon believed homosexuality had a medicinal effect.
In pre-colonial Benin, homosexuality was viewed as a boyhood phase that males passed through and eventually grew out of according to Zimbabwean Standard newspaper.
The Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and his lover Smenkhkare were also documented as male couple in history. Their homosexuality does not seem to have bothered Akhenaten’s contemporaries, but his challenge to the clergy brought his downfall.
She then goes briefly goes into the nature-nurture debate, and in her discussion of the importance of sex education in the home, it’s hard to know where she stands on that issue — or for homosexuality in general, although the calm tone of the article carefully hints at her tacit support for LGBT people. That tacit support becomes overt in her penultimate paragraph:
Such individual formation within the family means that sex education is indistinguishable from religious and moral development in other virtues such as temperance, fortitude, and prudence.
Africans should therefore not afford themselves the luxury of being hateful and intolerant to this particular group.
Whether Africa will face up the reality and accept homosexuals, or uphold its traditional values, remains to be seen as the debate rages on.
This piece contrasts very sharply from another op-ed that ran in Kenya’s Daily Nation today with the title, “Homosexuality is an abomination in the sight of God and man.” Three guesses on which side of the fence Dorothy Kweyu sits on. But what makes this piece interesting is that Kweyu reveals that as the Daily Nation’s Revise Editor, she contributed to a relatively positive article by Emeka-Mayaka Gekara which ran last week about LGBT Christians in Kenya who worship privately at a Nairobi branch of the Metropolitan Community Church.
I guess that article left both of them exposed to suspicions that they both endorsed LGBT equality, even though Kweyu’s name is not mentioned in the article. But to settle any confusion the mere presence of the report may have raised, Kweyu saw a burning need to set the record straight:
It occurred to me that as a mother and a Christian, I would be failing in my responsibilities, albeit as a layperson, if I did not express the utter horror and revulsion that was mine at reading such brazen affirmation of an evil. I can, therefore, confirm that my revision task was as “unenviable” as was the writer’s — something you do because you have no option; it’s all in a day’s work.
Zimbabwe Police Arrest LGBT Advocates
May 25th, 2010
According to multiple news reports, Zimbabwean police have arrested two employees of the country’s only LGBT advocacy group, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). Local news reports already show us how the Zimbabwean government under President Robert Mugabe wants the world to see the arrests:
The police arrested two GALZ employees Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi, who were detained at Harare Central Police Station on Friday and were still in police custody Saturday.
The police accused GALZ of contravening Section 157 (1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 and Section 32 (1) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act Chapter 10:04 by allegedly keeping pornographic material and dangerous drugs.
As of Saturday, police had still refused to allow the two advocates access to lawyers. Chademana is diabetic and there are concerns for her health.
Pink News reports that the two are still in police custody. They were expected to be released on bail today, but new charges were leveled against them in court for “undermining the authority of the President,” according to their attorney, David Hofisi:
He added: “There was a plaque on the wall of the GALZ office with a declaration by Willy Brown Jnr, the [former] mayor of San Francisco, which denounced President Mugabe for his opposition to homosexuality. . . It also praised GALZ for its work.”
Apparently, that was the basis for the newest charge.
President Robert Mugabe’s government has a history of harassing lesbians and gays. He has attacked homosexuality as foreign to African culture, and famously described LGBT people as “worse than dogs and pigs.” Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is the current Prime Minister under a contentious power-sharing agreement, have both rejected proposals to protect LGBT people in a new constitution that is currently being drafted.
Zimbabwe’s Political Factions Agree: No Rights for Gays
March 26th, 2010
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who holds office as part of an extremely contentious and tenuous power-sharing agreement with President Robert Mugabe after defeating Mugabe in 2008 elections despite massive fraud, managed to find agreement with the president one at least one issue. Tsvangirai told a group gathered at a belated International Women’s Day event that he supported Mugabe’s dismissal of efforts to include gay rights in the new constitution.
Mugabe, who has previously called gay people “worse than dogs and pigs,” told the gathering:
“That issue is not debatable, it’s not up for discussion,” he said, according the Zimbabwe Herald. “It is just madness, insanity. The ancestors will turn in their graves should we allow this to happen.”
Tsvangirai agreed with the president. “Women make up 52 percent of the population,” he said. “There are more women than men, so why should men be proposing to men?”
January 10th, 2010
Many of those behind Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill complain that homosexuality is a foreign import, despite the ironic fact that it was Europeans who imposed bans on homosexuality on their African colonies — and despite the huge impetus given the current drive to legislate LGBT people out of existence by three American anti-gay extremists. The idea of homosexuality being somehow “un-African” is widely believed, despite being ignorant nonesense. Douglas Foster, writing for the Los Angeles Times, provides proof of that from his visits to a Johannesburg, South Africa gay nightclub which served as a haven for Africa’s gay diaspora:
To get to Simply Blue’s curved bar and large dance floor, patrons had to climb a long flight of stairs and go through a security pat-down. You could always spot newcomers because they usually sat off to the side in the shadows, on broken-down couches, their eyes wide and jaws slack. Many of them literally had had the idea beaten into them that they were part of a cursed, despicable, tiny minority.
There was the middle-aged man from Zimbabwe, formerly married, whose brother had plotted to have him killed because of the shame he’d brought to his family when he’d switched to dating men. There was a young Nigerian who lingered on the sidelines for weeks before inching out onto the dance floor, but then moved in an explosion of long-suppressed joy at finding himself dancing in public across from another man. I met an older fellow, a soft-spoken farmer from Uganda who’d raised his children before leaving his home, his wife and his country. He’d finally decided he couldn’t live to the end of his life without having the chance to express his truest self.
[Hat tip: BTB reader Regan DuCasse]
New Anglican Bishop in Zimbabwe
July 27th, 2009
The Anglican Church Province of Central Africa is, perhaps, less homophobic than many on the African Continent. Which has caused an internal fight with one Bishop who pulled his diocese from the fellowship, citing their inadequate anti-gay positions.
And because in Africa the church is often strongly involved in the politics of a nation, the previous bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, with his connection to strongman Robert Mugabe, had delayed the return of property and title by means of court decisions and police action.
It now appears that the installation of his replacement has occured. (New Zimbabwe)
THE Anglican Church in Zimbabwe sought to open a new chapter in its troubled recent history with the consecration of Chad Gandiya as Bishop of Harare.
The consecration, watched by thirteen bishops, was followed by an enthronement in the Cathedral Church of St Mary & All Saints. Such defiance of Kunonga would hardly have been possible as recently as some months ago without violence by his state-backed shock troops.
Gandiya is known as a liberal in the Anglican Church which has been battling sharp divisions, particularly with the church in Africa, over the ordination of gay bishops.
It is always hard to tell to what extent this will impact the lives of gay Zimbaweans, but it certainly a movement in the right direction.
Mugabe May be Gone
April 1st, 2008
Virulently homophobic Zimbabwe stong-man Robert Mugabe may have been voted out of power after nearly three decades of rule. This is good news for gay and lesbian Zimbabeans.
More Anglican Dischord in Africa
February 4th, 2008
That portion of the Anglican Church known as the Global South and consisting primarily of Africa and Asia is where there is the greatest resistance to welcoming gay persons as equal members in the body of the Church. Bishops from Africa have led a revolt against the Archbishop of Canterbury and issued ultimatums to the Episcopal Church (the US branch of Anglicanism) about ordination of gay bishops.
Some have even usurped the authority of the American church and have set themselves up as overseeing bishops for those American dioceses for whom opposing gay inclusion is a more basic tenat of their faith than is unity in the body of Christ.
However, in the midst of Africa is a province that supports the international body, the Central Africa Province comprising Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This loyalty did not sit well with a bishop in Zimbabwe. Nolbert Kunonga is vehemently opposed to gay persons and did not believe his Province was adequately homophobic. Not surprisingly, he is an ally of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who has made statements claiming gay people are worse than dogs or pigs and threatening prosecution of religious leaders who disagree with him on same-sex couples.
Kunonga announced in December that he was breaking away from his province. He has been replaced by Sebastian Bakare.
However Kunonga did not readily accept Bakare’s appointment.
But Kunonga and his followers barricaded themselves in the cathedral.
When two representatives of Bakare went to the building and tried to gain access they were badly beaten.
With Mugabe’s support, it seems unlikely that Kunonga will readily recognize Bukare’s authority. And I fear that violence will continue.