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GALZ STATEMENT TO MARK INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA

in ZIMBABWE, 18/05/2012

17 May each year marks International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. As GALZ, we mark this day to reflect on the daily struggles of lesbian gay bisexual transgender and Intersex people (LGBTI) and their families in an environment where homophobia is almost institutionalized.

Those who work to defend the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals see their rights to freedom of expression and assembly routinely violated, often with reference to nationalism

Homophobia is “the irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals”. Transphobia is “the irrational fear and hatred of transgender persons”.

Political leaders in Zimbabwe have pandered to public prejudices against LGBTI individuals through public statements that justify the abuse and exclusion of anyone suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex.

Political leaders not only condone these human rights abuses, but many celebrate them as part of Zimbabwean “culture.” High-level leaders, continue to fuel public prejudice against LGBTI individuals through public statements that endorse violence and abuse. In doing so, they ignore Zimbabwe’s voluntarily undertaken international human rights obligations to protect the rights of everyone under Zimbabwe’s jurisdiction without discrimination.

The Constitutional Reform process initiated in 2011 as the result of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) could to some extent, remedy this situation. Through this process, the Zimbabwean parliament has the opportunity to bring the constitution into compliance with its international human rights obligations and explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. So far, this potential has not been fulfilled, not least because high-level politicians from both major political parties, including President Robert Mugabe and the members of the Constitutional Select Committee, (COPAC), publicly have opposed the inclusion of LGBTI protections in the new constitution. The result has been that politicians continue to slander, vilify and dehumanise LGBTI individuals.

We call upon Zimbabweans to shun and condemn all forms of violence and discrimination relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

GALZ also calls on Zimbabwe’s government to ensure that the criminal justice system is not used to target or harass LGBTI organizations, their staff, families, lawyers, organisations and individuals who represent and support them, and that these organizations, their staff, and lawyers can carry out their work in defence of human rights without fear of reprisal or intimidation

Zimbabwe’s rich and diverse culture implores every citizen to be aware that we are all different and all unique. It is our differences that complete our humanity.

HOMOPHOBIA and TRANSPHOBIA HURTS

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