A gay Zimbabwean teacher who was forced to resign from his job after coming out at school said on Friday he fears the debate could cause a fresh backlash against LGBT+ people in the country. Neal Hovelmeier hoped to open a discussion about tolerance and acceptance, but said the furious backlash from parents and commenters may have left gay students feeling even more afraid to reveal their sexuality. “In the immediate aftermath I felt very, very positive ... I felt it could possibly be a defining moment actually for our school system,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Zimbabwe. “What I’m saddened to realize is that the country is not in a space where they feel this a discussion that can be tolerated yet.”
The bill of rights in the constitution provides that no person can be deprived of fundamental rights, such as the right to life, personal liberty, security of person, freedom of assembly and association, equality, and political and socioeconomic rights. It prohibits discrimination based on one’s race, tribe, place... Expand
The bill of rights in the constitution provides that no person can be deprived of fundamental rights, such as the right to life, personal liberty, security of person, freedom of assembly and association, equality, and political and socioeconomic rights. It prohibits discrimination based on one’s race, tribe, place of origin, political opinion, color, creed, gender, or disability. The bill of rights cannot be arbitrarily amended and, in the section on the rights of women, states that all “laws, customs, traditions, and practices that infringe the rights of women conferred by this constitution are void to the extent of the infringement.” Nevertheless, discrimination against women and persons with disabilities persisted. The government and ZANU-PF continued to infringe on the right to due process, citizenship, and property ownership in ways that affected the white minority disproportionately.
The constitution does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the country’s criminal code, “any act involving physical contact between men that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act” carries a penalty of up to one year in prison or a fine up to $5,000. Despite that, there were no known cases of prosecutions of consensual same-sex sexual activity. Common law prevents gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians from fully expressing their sexual orientation. In some cases it criminalizes the display of affection between men.
President Mugabe and ZANU-PF leaders publicly criticized the LGBT community. In March, President Mugabe declared, “gays have no human rights.” Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana also stated that the country’s laws were weak and not thorough enough for “dealing with” gays and lesbians. In April at Zimbabwe’s Independence Day commemoration President Mugabe threatened to expel foreign diplomats who “promoted” homosexuality.
Members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), the primary organization dedicated to advancing the rights of LGBT persons, experienced harassment and discrimination. A decrease in scrutiny of the GALZ by the government was attributed to less anti-LGBT rhetoric in the postelection environment.
Religious leaders in a society traditionally conservative and Christian encouraged discrimination against LGBT individuals. In March, Emmanuel Makandiwa, leader of the United Family International Church, described LGBT individuals as “mentally sick.”
On March 12, police officers arrested Natasha Dowell, a volunteer coordinator for the GALZ, and Tawanda Maguze. The two were facilitating a GALZ workshop on social media use at a Harare hotel. Their lawyers said police disrupted the workshop, alleging organizers had not sought police clearance as required under the law. Police charged Dowell with violating the law but released her. Police released Maguze without charge. Authorities indicated they would proceed by way of summons with the case, although Maguze had not been summoned as of the end of November.
In contrast with GALZ, the Bulawayo-based Sexual Rights Center (SRC), an organization similarly dedicated to advancing the rights of “sexual minorities,” faced minimal harassment. In January, however, police arrested one of the SRC’s board members, a transgender woman. While detained at the Bulawayo Central Police Station, police subjected her to degrading treatment, including a nonconsensual medical examination.
LGBT individuals reported widespread societal discrimination based on sexual orientation. In response to social pressure, some families reportedly subjected their LGBT members to “corrective” rape and forced marriages to encourage heterosexual conduct. Such crimes rarely were reported to police. Women in particular were subjected to rape by male family members. LGBT persons often left school at an early age due to discrimination and had higher rates of unemployment and homelessness. Many persons who identified themselves as LGBT did not seek medical care for sexually transmitted diseases or other health problems due to fear that health providers would shun them.
The LGBT community made some legal advances during the year. GALZ registered a legal victory related to a series of raids conducted by police against their organization in 2012. In 2012 police raided GALZ offices several times, arrested GALZ members, and charged Martha Tholanah, GALZ cochairperson, with running an unregistered organization under a law used by the government to disrupt and harass civil society organizations. During one of the raids, police also confiscated property belonging to GALZ, including computers and documents. Following a lengthy legal process, on January 14, the High Court ruled the 2012 raid was illegal and ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to return the property to GALZ. On February 26, a local magistrate ruled in favor of Tholanah, citing the High Court’s order that the law did not oblige GALZ to register.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights ReportContract
Lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ and transgender activists in Zimbabwe have commended the bravery of a top private school deputy headmaster for openly declaring his sexual orientation during assembly. Dr Neal Hovelmeier teaches at St John's College‚ one of the country's elite schools. He made the announcement to pupils at the school last week. Hovelmeier said in a statement that he had decided to lead by example because of some of his former students' experiences. "I have become increasingly aware that a number of former students who gain the confidence after school to pursue their chosen orientation‚ have reported back to me experiencing an environment of intolerance‚ intimidation and homophobia while they were at school‚" he said.
Following Robert Mugabe‘s ousting from government, Zimbabwe has applied to rejoin the Commonwealth. Despite becoming involved in the intergovernmental organisation when it gained independence in 1980, the African country hasn’t been a member since 2003 when the former president pulled it out entirely, in response to its suspension over rigged and violent elections. While Mugabe’s replacement and former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to hold fair and free elections, and voiced his aim of attracting foreign investment and repairing international relations, Zimbabwe’s harsh stance on LGBT rights will not sit well with some countries in the Commonwealth – particularly Britain as it makes strides to decriminalise same-sex relationships.
The new Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke on LGBT equality subject for the first time as president, during an interview with CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Mnangangwa turned to the constitution saying his hands are tight after being pressed on whether he was going to change laws to allow same-sex marriage and protect the rights of gays. In his words he said, "In our constitution it is banned – and it is my duty to obey my constitution".
A professor from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, will deliver a lecture examining the history of activism among sexual minority groups in Zimbabwe. Marc Epprecht – professor of global development studies, history and cultural studies – will give a talk titled “Reflections on the Struggle for Sexual Minority Rights in Zimbabwe,” March 7 at 4:30 p.m. at the A.D. White House.
Revent statistics from the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) that the prevalence rate among the gay population is above the national figure make scary reading and calls for a balancing act to “appease the moral crusades” and at the same time ensure all the taps on HIV infection are closed. The gay population is disproportionately burdened by HIV infection, a situation which is worsened by laws that penalise same-sex intercourse and contribute to a cycle of stigma, homonegativity and discrimination. In many African countries, laws criminalising homosexuality may be fuelling the epidemic, as they dissuade key populations from seeking treatment and health care providers from offering it.
Zimbabwe’s recently deposed president Robert Mugabe made no secret of his loathing for gay men and lesbians. He once famously described them as “worse than pigs and dogs”. In 2015, he stood before the UN General Assembly and declared “we [Zimbabweans] are not gays”.
Robert Mugabe on Tuesday resigned as the president of Zimbabwe.He submitted his resignation — which took effect immediately — less than a week after the country’s military placed him under house arrest. The military moved against Mugabe after he fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in an apparent attempt to allow his wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him. Zimbabwean LGBT rights advocates are among those who celebrated Robert Mugabe’s resignation. “GALZ receives the news of the resignation of Robert Mugabe with much jubilation,” said GALZ, an LGBT and intersex advocacy group that is based in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, in a statement. “Since 1995 GALZ has been on the receiving end of the brutality and hate of Robert Mugabe’s aversion to diversity. We are ecstatic that the face of brutality, hate and impunity has resigned.”
Mugabe has been the President of Zimbabwe since1987, and has presided over a regime that has been accused of corruption and human rights abuses. He is also an extreme homophobe, responsible for stirring up homophobic sentiment in the country and defending its anti-LGBT laws. The leader has previously expressed tacit support for gay people being put to death, and his homophobic actions have been blamed for a worsening HIV crisis in the country. All this makes him a rather unlikely choice to be named a ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ by the WHO, which is responsible for safeguarding international public health.
Eric Sambisa’s gamble did not pay off. In December 2015, the Malawian became the first person to openly come out as gay on national television. “Being gay in Malawi is always associated with negatives. I wanted to show the Malawian nation that we are human beings … like every other citizen in the country,” he says. But there were consequences to his decision. “My life became hell after that. I had to run away out of town, but I had no money to travel to faraway places. I still don’t have good ties with my family.”
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