The plight of Zimbabwe’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, which has long suffered from social and institutionalised discrimination is set to continue following remarks that the government will not soften its tough stance on homosexuality.
The government recently shot down suggestions to allow same sex-marriages in the country, choosing to accept 142 recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group.
The country’s Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa told local papers that the government will not change its stance on decriminalising same-sex unions.
Commenting on the issue, Mnangagwa told the Herald, “With regards to areas that we felt we would not accept, it is issues of gays and homosexuality, which is unlawful in our country. We rejected all those. There are a few countries from Europe which recommended we reconsider our position with regard to adults of same sex marrying each other that we rejected”.
The country’s constitution prohibits same-sex marriages, and Section 78 (3) states, “Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other”.
Homosexuality remains a hugely controversial and divisive issue in Zimbabwe, and the country remains strongly anti-homosexual, and same sex-sex relationships are viewed by many as “unAfrican” and going against religious and cultural morals.
Tanzania recently rejected similar human rights recommendations, which government authorities argued were incongruent with the country’s Constitution, traditions and customs.
Only a few African countries have decriminalised same-sex relationships in the past few years, including Mozambique, Lesotho (legalised in 2012) and more recently Seychelles. In the majority of African countries the issue remains contentious and punishable by law.