By Nomalanga Moyo
President Robert Mugabe has yet again revived his acerbic attacks on Zimbabwe’s gay community whom he called worse than pigs and threatened to behead them.
Mugabe is a self-proclaimed homophobe who in the past has labelled gay people “worse than pigs and dogs”, and threatened them with severe punishment.
Mugabe’s latest threats were made in Mutare where he was addressing a rally at the Aerodrome Ground on Tuesday, according to a NewsDay report.
In the report, Mugabe is quoted telling his followers that: “If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads.
“This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Imagine this son born out of an African father, (US President Barack) Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. Aah, we will never do that.”
Homosexuals are generally regarded as outlaws and frowned upon in Zimbabwe and across Africa where the practice goes against conservative belief systems.
Regardless of any personal feelings about homosexuality, a country’s leader should never call for violence against any group or individual.
These unprovoked utterances by a Head of State whose rallies have so far been immediately followed by a surge in harassment of political opponents, are likely to spread fear and despondency within the gay community.
In July, Mugabe attacked gay people seven times at his rallies, prompting complaints from the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ).
In a letter sent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Wednesday, GALZ said its members are concerned by Mugabe’s “continued use of hate speech”, which they say violates their constitutional rights and freedoms.
“The Party president has made statements that encourage violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Zimbabwe. In a number of instances, the President made statements that are an indication of state sponsored homophobia of alarming levels,” the letter reads in part.
The body says Mugabe used hate speech during his addresses in Bondolphi College, Zimbabwe Grounds, Chikomba, Nzvimbo, Marondera, Chitungwiza, Chinhoyi and in Mutare.
On June 6th, armed men forced their way into, and ransacked, GALZ premises in an attack which the group blames on the climate of fear, intolerance and hatred fanned by Mugabe’s statements.
“GALZ notes with concern that ZANU PF’s instruments of intimidation and electioneering, which include the subject of gays, remains as strong as ever and is once again being used during its campaign rallies.
“It has become customary for the President to attempt to whip up a climate of hysterical homophobia against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people before, during and after elections,” the letter further notes.
The group further called on the Commission to investigate Mugabe’s hate speech which they say, if unchecked, will lead to the exclusion of gay people from electoral processes.
South Africa based actor, human rights activist Frank Malaba, said it was unfortunate that a country’s leader was instigating violence against a section of the population.
Malaba said: “Mugabe should know that his followers listen to him and so if he gives them the go-ahead to be violent and to behead gay people, they will do that.
“Today it is gays and lesbians, tomorrow it will be women, albinos, whites, and anyone Mugabe dislikes. This should not be allowed in an independent country. The rights of citizens should be protected and respected regardless of sexual orientation,” Malaba added. SW Radio Africa