|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Zimbabwean researchers in HIV&AIDS are afraid of including the homosexual and drug injection communities in the national HIV&AIDS priority research document they are working on because of the criminalization of these areas by the country’s government.
These two areas among other minority groups are key drivers of HIV&AIDS and researchers said they was need for the nation to prioritize them and have national campaign programs targeted at them.
Zimbabwe AIDS Network National Director Lindiwe Chaza-Jangira said the gay and lesbians as well as the drug injectors are HIV&AIDS drivers who should not be ignored in the research.
She said it was disturbing to note that researchers have not highlighted these groups as key priority areas in their research
because of the criminalization of the activities associated with gays, lesbians and drug injecting communities.
“Given the fact that this area is criminalized here in the country, as researchers we are finding it difficult to include it in the
research document which we are going to submit to the government which is anti-homosexual activities,” she told delegates attending an HIV&AIDS National Partnership Forum in Harare on Friday.
Research Advisory Committee (RAC) Chair Professor S Rusakaniko said the homosexual community was one of the vulnerable groups whose data needed to be included in the national HIV&AIDS policy document although its contribution to the risk was not all that serious.
“Its true that in Zimbabwe the rule of law is intolerant to the issue of homosexuality but in the research we are carrying out which
we are taking from a scientific perspective is it a priority area to be given urgent attention at the moment in the country. Could we now get resources to support research in that area when we have other competing HIV&AIDS drivers?
“We know it exists and we are not undermining it but we are also looking at resources we are having at the moment, in addition to
the politics of the land which I can not comment on and refer you to policy makers.
President Robert Mugabe has since described gays and lesbians as worse than dogs. In the current constitution view gathering process ZANU-PF is lobbying for the exclusion of gay and lesbians’ rights in the supreme document of the law.
Partners in the fight against HIV&AIDS are working on an HIV&AIDS research document citing priority areas which they are going to present to government to be adopted as a policy.
The research document was supposed to have been produced in 2008 is yet to be finalized as it was affected by the hyperinflation
which rendered useless the country’s economy before the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009.
RAC, which is responsible for the research is revising some of the issues which were put in 2008 which are now out-dated, hoping that the document will be completed before the end of this year.