NGO Forum Demands Mugabe Retraction

Harare-The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has written an open letter to The GPA Principals demanding a retraction of the statements they made last week when they said gay rights had no space in the new constitution saying such statements promote intolerance and incite violence on gays and lesbians.

Last Week in Chitugwiza at the commemorations of the of the International Women’s Day in President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said gay rights had no space in the new constitution.

At the occasion President Mugabe was quoted by the state owned Herald as saying the issue of “gay rights” was not even debatable.

“I want to see how they will procreate. If they manage, then I will admit that I do not know,” President Mugabe said. “It is just madness.

Insanity, “urging Zimbabwean women to fight the practice.

President Mugabe said the sanctity of a family revolved around a father, a mother and children. “If you are doing that (engaging in

homosexuality) you are destroying nationhood,” he said.

President Mugabe has previously described homosexuals as “worse than dogs and pigs”.

According to The Herald, Tsvangirai said in the vernacular Shona that he agreed with the President, adding why one would want to marry another man when there is a shortage of men to go around women who make up 52 percent of the country’s population.

“President mataura nyaya yemagay rights, yevamwe varume vanofemera munzeve dzevamwe varume. “Bodo, apowo handibvumirane nazvo. Unogodirei kutsvaga mumwe murume yet vakadzi make up 52 percent (of the population)? Varume titori vashoma,” he said.

At the same occasion deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was quoted by the paper saying: “Women need friends among men . . . The biggest and greatest ally for women of Zimbabwe is President Mugabe. Go to the history of the liberation struggle and see the role of RG Mugabe in terms of empowering women.”

The open letter dated 31 March which was read to journalists by the organisation’s Executive Director Abel Chikomo read ” The statements which make reference to attempts to include gay rights in the new constitution undermine public tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Issues of sexuality impact on the dignity, privacy, identity and freedom of people. We urge you not to undermine the dignity of these individuals by making such homophobic statements.

We call on the GPA principals to desist from making statements likely to promote hate and prejudice. Zimbabwe is going through a transition from a period characterized by hate, violence and economic suffering and move towards national healing.

“We support a constitution that protects Zimbabweans against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, just as it prevents discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, ethinicity or religion.

“The immediate challenge the nation is facing is overcoming social deprivations in areas such as hunger, health, education, unemployment and violence against women and children and above all the functionality of the GNU. These are the areas in which the principals in the GNU should be providing leadership, rather than fostering antipathy and intolerance,” reads the letter.

Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe Director Chesterfield Samba said they will continues advocating for the inclusion of gay rights in the new constitution “All human beings are born free and equal indignity and rights and that all human rights are universial, interdependent, indivisible and interrelated as such we have resolved that sexual orientation and gender identity are integral to every person’s dignity and must not be the basis for discrimination or abuse.

“We agreed that it is necessary to specifically include sexual orientation in our new constitution to ensure equality for all and we commit to educating, lobbying and advocating to achieve this end,” he said.

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