Zimbabwe marks 33 years of Independence today. GALZ joins the nation in celebrating and honouring Zimbabwe’s men and women who sacrificed their lives to bring freedom for ALL. One of the reasons for the struggle for independence was to bring about equality for all before the law and GALZ strives to see this becoming a reality in present day Zimbabwe.
Looking back, GALZ was formed with the principal objective of fighting for equality for gays and lesbians under the law. In our founding constitution, “The principle objective of GALZ shall be to build an organization which is democratic and accountable and which shall strive for the attainment of full and equal rights in all aspects of life for all gay men and lesbians within Zimbabwe. GALZ will pursue this objective for all gay men and lesbians regardless of their sexual orientation or preference, race, class, gender or religion.” We wanted to be a visible part of Zimbabwe and we remain on course in our quest to achieving equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.
We celebrate the important milestones that we have achieved throughout our journey. We largely remain visible to serve our community. Since its formation, the organisation is still in existence, we have won court battles, we continue to give hope to our community.
We are concerned that the state continues to vilify our kind and actively violates and harasses our kin. As a result our community lives in fear of violence and abuse because they have witnessed abuse or encountered violent homophobic slurs. The law facilitates harassment of LGBTI individuals because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Since the key problem faced by gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe is the ‘culture of silence’, the Government’s strategy of preventing GALZ from serving its community and not to allowing GALZ to participate in national processes nonetheless turns into a major public controversy, generates huge media attention and places homosexuality firmly on the Zimbabwean national agenda albeit in a negative way, we continue to be inspired.
We demand an end to the vilification, abuse and dehumanisation of LGBTI individuals in Zimbabwe. We also encourage that state to support the work of all human rights defenders including those working in defence of the right to non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We hope that the adoption of a new constitution will signify a departure from the inherited, archaic British colonial laws that are used to punish and discriminate LGBTI individuals. Even in an extremely fraught environment, sustained activism based on a politics of hope can win extremely inspirational victories, as it is the basic policy of GALZ, to turn apparent defeat into triumph. This positive attitude stems from the pride we have in ourselves, the confidence and determination that we will succeed in normalising the position of LGBT people in society.