By Sofia Mapuranga- Homophobia rhetoric against LGBTIs is still prevalent in Zimbabwe and there is need to sensitise communities to unlearn these sentiments.
The late former president Robert Mugabe is on record publicly attacking LGBTIs describing them as worse than dogs.
Gays and Lesbians Zimbabwe (GALZ) programs director Sam Matsikure said stigma and discrimination instigated by community leaders had ripple effects on the lives of LGBTIs.
“The homophobia is still there and communities refer to the hate speech said by their leaders who shape opinion.
More needs to be done to sensitise communities to become tolerant and accept and co-exist with LGBTIs .”
According to GALZ, an association of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe established in 1990 to serve the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community , greater acknowledgement of sexual and gender diversity promotes and protects human rights.
Said the organisation in a statement on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17:
“There is need for implementing tangible action towards inclusivity of all citizens regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sexual characteristics in civic processes.
Our plea is that government must ensure healthcare that is inclusive, adequate and affirming of all gender identities.
We also call on government to guarantee law enforcement that is dynamic and constantly learning for the avoidance of brutality over the sexuality of private citizens.”
The organisation also called for non-punitive laws based on the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
“We ask for the revision of the Criminal Code and explicit repeal of the backward Sodomy law.
These few asks call for engagement with the communities in question to ensure their needs are met as citizens of Zimbabwe. Only then will the hard-won democracy espouse the spirit of the Constitution, and represent rights.
GALZ’s vision is “a just society that promotes and protects human rights of LGBTI people as equal citizens in Zimbabwe.