|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
ON the first of August 1995, President Mugabe made a remark that the world will never forget after he came across a stall set by the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) at the annual International Book Fair in Harare. “I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organisations, like those of homosexuals, who offend both against the law of nature and the morals of religious beliefs espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and elsewhere in the world,” President Mugabe said. Predictably, there was a massive outcry from the west in an attempt to change President Mugabe’s stance on gays, but the great African leader refused to be deterred as days later at the country’s Heroes celebration, he beamed his most famous anti-gay sentiment. “It degrades human dignity. It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings? We have our own culture, and we must rededicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings. “What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behaviour and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police,” said the President.
From then on, the pro-gay western world treated Zimbabwe, a country that views homosexuality as highly taboo, as a regressive country that lacks any shred of civility simply because it refused and continues to rebuff attempts to make it go against every grain of its beliefs.
For long the gay society remained underground, becoming a secret society that grew in numbers each passing day. The more it grew, thanks to pro-gay western donors, the bolder it became, though it still chose to maintain in a veil of secrecy.
The need of a new constitution, a constitution that reflects a truly independent Zimbabwe, has seen the gay community coming to the fore, demanding to be recognised and tolerated.
The three principals in the coalition government tried but in vain to discourage and drive the gay society back into the world of oblivion by declaring that homosexuality has no place in Zimbabwe.
When COPAC rolled into Bulawayo, the gay population led by a local non-governmental organisation called Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) stubbornly went on overdrive and submitted a draft that sought to legalise homosexuality.
The right to choose
The well thought out and expertly written draft does not boldly state its intention but a close look at it crystalises its purpose.
It advocates for people to have the right to choose their sexual orientation and to have total control of their bodies. Sexual orientation falls into three categories heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual, thus if the unexpected happens, gays will use that as a defence that homosexuality is not outlawed in Zimbabwe.
Mrs Christiana Maseko, the director of SRC refused to acknowledge that the main thrust of her organisation was to champion gay rights, choosing to claim that it seeks sexual rights for all.
“We want people to have the right to control their lives, for example we want women to have reproductive rights and the right to choose their partners. We are against the discrimination of individuals because of their sexual preferences. We want people to have the right over their sexual orientation,” Mrs Maseko said.
Mrs Maseko believes that the recognition of gay rights would make Zimbabwe a country on the pedestal of progress like South Africa.
Her words are in line with the British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who is heavily involved in attempts to turn Africa into a gay paradise, who claimed that “the minds of many Africans remain colonised by the homophobic beliefs that were drummed into their forebears by the western missionaries who invaded their lands”.
What Tatchell failed to acknowledge or is ignorant of, is that Africa was always a homophobic continent long before the advent of colonialism.
And what many Africans believe is that the legalisation of homosexuality in Africa would be a sign that the west still has a stranglehold on policy makers.
Thus Zimbabwe cannot and must not to allow the importation of a deviant western practice even if the rest of Africa drowns in the pro-gay flood that is threatening to change the mechanism of a typical African culture.
It was heartening for many when in July 2006 parliament added the sexual deviancy law to the Criminal Codification Act, a landmark decision that clearly proved that Zimbabwe was going to remain an anti-gay country.
The revised law not only outlawed homosexuality but stated that sodomy is any “act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act”.
Cde Emerson Mnangagwa the then Speaker of the House summed up the country’s standpoint when he told the media and lawmakers that Zimbabwe would not throw out it’s cultural beliefs just because others were doing so.
“In Zimbabwe we are very clear that men marry women and women get married to men. However we have no duty to criticise laws passed by another parliament,” he said in reference to the decision by the South African parliament to legalise same sex marriages.
It is not only the political community that is against homosexuality in Zimbabwe as the Christian community strongly condemns the practice.
“If the homosexual community chooses to practise homosexuality in privacy that is their choice, but let such persons know for certain that the Christian Bible condemns all such practices and God will judge them unfit for the kingdom of heaven if they continue to practise and openly promote homosexual sex,” said Mr Thabani Moyo, a retired Seventh Day Adventist pastor.
Mr Moyo, who was horrified that some churches now accept same sex marriages, believes that for homosexuals to use the Bible to condone rather than condemn homosexual activity in the theological arena just proves that they absolutely have no idea what the Bible actually teaches.
“For anyone to suggest the Bible says homosexual activity is acceptable to God, is nothing short of wilful blindness. The world wants to change God’s words and meanings into something more suitable to its sinful desires. Nevertheless, the truth stands. So to set the record straight once and for all, they should read the book of Leviticus, 1 Timothy and Romans.”
Leviticus 18:22 to 23 reads: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” While Leviticus 20:13 says: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”
As if that was not enough the Bible goes further in it’s condemnation of the unnatural act as it says in Rom 1:26 to 27: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
But the West, a society that still maintains a straight face, claiming to be Christian, sees it fit to ignore such Bible extracts and surprisingly equates Zimbabwe’s decision to outlaw homosexuality with hatred and bigotry against gays and lesbians.
Zimbabwe does not hate gays, it simply desires due to its tradition, culture and strongly Christian foundation to live free of homosexuality. Putting nasty labels upon the country’s motives is a failure by the West to respect the sovereignty of this mineral rich land. It’s judgmental and unfair.
Diseases from homosexuality
Those who advocate for gay relationships intentionally forget to mention the medical consequence of this unnatural act that gays have a greatly increased likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS, syphilis and other STDs.
Allowing gays to run free would see Zimbabwe, a Third World country, fighting a losing battle against diseases that emanate from homosexuality. It is well established that there are high rates of psychiatric illnesses, including depression, drug abuse, and suicide attempts, among gays and lesbians.
This is true even in the Netherlands, where gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships are far more socially acceptable than in US. Depression and drug abuse are strongly associated with risky sexual practices that lead to serious medical problems.
Zimbabwe is a relatively young country, blessed with a legion of youths who have the potential to turn the country into an economic powerhouse not only in Africa but the world over. The coming in of gays can undermine that as the only epidemiological study to date on the lifespan of gay men concluded that gay and bisexual men lose up to 20 years of their life expectancy.
Encouraging people to engage in risky sexual behaviour undermines good health and can result in a shortened lifespan. Yet that is exactly what governments are doing when they grant homosexual couples benefits or statuses that make their relationships appear more socially acceptable. Zimbabwe must resist the temptation to fall into the same trap.
The west knows full well that homosexuality has more cons than pros as it prohibits gays from donating blood because as a group they are at greater risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B and other infections that can be transmitted through transfusion.
Thus, with more to lose than gain from granting homosexuals and their western backers the licence to act out their diabolical and inhuman behaviour, it would be foolhardy for Zimbabwe to sentence itself to the guillotine.