The GALZ employees, Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi, were arrested during a raid on their offices last Friday. They are being accused of displaying a plaque of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown, in which he allegedly denounces the former freedom fighter’s homophobia against gays and lesbians in their Milton Park office.
President Robert Mugabe’s government has a history of harassing lesbians and gays. In the past Mugabe has attacked homosexuality, which he has described as foreign to African culture. He once described homosexuals as “worse than dogs and pigs” when they attempted to assert their rights.
Rights group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), whose lawyers are representing the GALZ employees, said the two were formally charged on Monday but the police did not take them to court. This means that Chademana and Muhanbi will spend their fourth night in filthy police cells on Monday night and are now likely to be arraigned before the courts on Wednesday.
Meanwhile GALZ had organised an urgent board meeting to react on the arrest, intimidation, and political statements by the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee that gays and lesbians rights issues had been ommitted in the talking points of the new constitution.
“As it stands we are not protected by the laws of the country in which we are citizens. We cannot hold meetings with the public to express
our views, we are not given that authority and security to do so,” GALZ Programs manager Sam Matsikure told Radio VOP in an interview.
Co chairperson of the Parliamentary committee dealing with the constitution making process, Paul Mangwana, last week announced that the issue
of gays and lesbians rights in the new constitution would never be included.
“According to the ethics, morals and values of the nation, such an issue cannot be a talking point during the outreach programme, “said
“Politicians should not speak on behalf of the people, because they are not the people of Zimbabwe. We want a situation where
people speak for themselves. Let them give the number of ordinary people who are saying no to gays and lesbians rights. We need people to be given that chance and decide for themselves,“ said Matsikure.