|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Zimbabwe’s only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organisation, GALZ, the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, has expressed outrage over reports implicating a senior Police Officer, Obert Magebede, 38, on sodomy charges involving a child.
“We deplore sexual atrocities against children and we strongly condemn the actions of the police officer whose role in society is to protect the very same child that he allegedly raped on several occasions before threatening him with unspecified action,” said GALZ in a statement.
Magabede was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly sodomising his brother’s 10-year-old son early this month. The incident allegedly took place at the Chikurubi Support Unit camp, on the outskirts of the capital Harare, where Magebede was living with the boy.
“The boy was seen wandering in the police camp and was reportedly reluctant to go home. He narrated his ordeal to senior officers at the camp, prompting them to investigate the matter,” reported Newsday.co.zw
Magebede was not asked to plead when he appeared before the regional Magistrate, William Bhila. He was however remanded in custody until July and advised to apply for bail at the High Court.
In its statement GALZ said, “It is clear that distinctions need to be made between consensual and enforced sodomy given the fact that the officer now faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault instead of rape. This distinction needs to be made as these confusions have led to a situation of injustice since the law on sodomy lacks clarity, certainty and consistency.”
Sodomy is stipulated in Zimbabwe Common law as one of the prohibitions defined as the “unlawful and intentional sexual relations between two human males.”
The GALZ statement continued, “There is no distinction under Zimbabwean law between consensual same sex conduct, which GALZ believes should be decriminalised, and enforced sodomy that should be termed rape. Recently, there has been a trend in the media to equate sodomy with rape. This is alarming because it promotes the dangerous myth that homosexual men are automatically rapists and abusers of children.
“We call for a review of the sodomy laws by decriminalising consensual sodomy and replacing the term enforced sodomy with rape. Only then can justice be done in this country.”
Efforts to have gay rights integrated in Zimbabwe’s new constitution were unsuccessful last year with the Zimbabwean government wrapping up the final stages of the draft constitution without consulting with the LGBTI community.
The decriminalisation of consensual sodomy and the emancipation of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe remain uncertain. This year, Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe has maintained his opposition to homosexuality, calling Britain’s tolerance of gay rights “unnatural” and “filth” and previously having infamously said, “gays were worse than pigs and dogs.”