|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Zimbabwe’s ageing liberation fighters have made a vow: “there will be no room for gays in Zimbabwe”.
They say it is against what they fought for during the liberation struggle. “You cannot change the direction of a struggle, but only improve the road. Do you think those who died for the liberation of the country died for gay marriages?”, asked Jabulani Sibanda, the veterans leader.
He added, “Imagine being a father receiving a letter from your son informing you that he will be bringing his husband home to meet you. It’s really shocking. We are not going to accept that. We will defend the revolution.”
His comments came barely a week after state security agents stormed offices of a gay rights group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe and arrested two workers.
Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi where charged for ‘insulting the office of the President’ and for allegedly possessing ‘pornographic material’.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Zimbabwe but the ‘act’ of sodomy is criminalized.
Malawi’s gay couple
In Malawi, the country’s president on Saturday pardoned a jailed gay couple through a presidential decree- without any condition after pressure from the international community.
The two men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were released late on Saturday after they were arrested late December following a symbolic wedding, Malawi media reports.
But reports say the couple has since Saturday not been seen in public.
President Bingu wa Mutharika said the release is on humanitarian grounds but warned that homosexuality remained illegal in Malawi. “In all aspects of reasoning, in all aspects of human understanding, these two gay boys were wrong – totally wrong,” he is quoted as telling UN boss Ban Ki-moon last week.
“However, now that they have been sentenced, I as the president of this country have the powers to pronounce on them and therefore, I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released.”
However the pardon changes nothing with regards to Malawi’s penal code: homosexual acts remain illegal.
The couple was slapped with an effective 14 year jail term with hard labour.
In sentencing the first openly gay couple in May judge Nyakwawa Usiwa said he wanted to protect the public from them. “I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example”.
Gay Rights activists and Western governments quickly condemned the arrests and demanded that the men be released as they have not violated any law.
Foreign donations make up about forty per cent of Malawi’s yearly budget and there was a possibility, Britain which gives £19 million per year could withdraw its support for the Southern African nation.
It is said that 38 out of 53 African countries criminalise consensual gay sex, which is punishable by death in some nations, according to Human Rights Watch. South Africa is the only country in the continent to recognise same-sex marriages.