President Robert Mugabe has in the past made frequent vitriolic attacks on homosexuality which he has described as foreign to African culture. He once described homosexuals as “worse than dogs and pigs” about a decade ago when they attempted to assert their rights and highlight widespread homophobia in the country.
“I don’t have any problem with gay rights being included in the new constitution. There have rights like all other human beings. Even murderers have rights. I don’t think you would want murderers to be killed soon after arrests by police. They have to be tried in courts,” said Phulu who is also Matabeleland region representative for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
Phulu was addressing Bulawayo Press Club this week.
Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, and some individuals have been prosecuted and convicted for their sexual orientation, including former president Canaan Sodindo Banana. On the other hand, there are very active and very visible gay and lesbian organizations in Zimbabwe like the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) that have created public debate on the issue.
Early last year homosexual community in Zimbabwe led by GALZ demanded that its rights be recognized and enshrined in the new Constitution currently being drafted.
Last month the President of the Zimbabwe Chief’s Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira is reported to have said Zimbabweans should resist all attempts by GALZ to smuggle same sex marriages. He said even the platform to discuss such issues should not be accorded
Phulu also said the new constitution should include the issue of Gukurahundi massacres in the late 1980s.
“There is no way you can talk about a new constitution without including the issue of Gukurahundi massacres,” he said.
Turning to media freedom, the ZimRights boss said “the current constitution is not clear on media freedom ,that’s why the Zanu PF government had been taking advantage and shut down private newspapers ,radio and television stations”.