44 Zimbabwe Gay Activists Arrested in Police Raid
Zimbabwe police arrested 44 gay rights campaigners last weekend after authorities launched a raid of local LGBT organization’s headquarters, Care2.com reported.
Police raided the Gay and Lesbians of Zimbabwe organization’s headquarters just before the group was about to launch a report about the persecutions LGBT citizens face in the country.
Zimbabwe is landlocked and borders South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana. The former British colony of Rhodesia has been on a rapid downward trajectory since Robert Mugabe seized power and became a virtual dictator. The country has become an international pariah; its currency is worthless; and the people face total poverty, disease and famine. Mugabe’s wife, meanwhile, was spotted on a luxury shopping spree in Hong Kong.
Like several other African countries, Zimbabwe does not recognize same-sex relationships of any kind and has even outlawed male same-sex sexual activity. In 2006, laws were passed that made it a criminal offense for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug or kiss. According to Wikipedia, the government has launched campaigns against gay men and women since 1995.
In May, Mugabe, now 88, announced that homosexuality does not belong in the country and said the "gay world" goes against nature, the Associated Press reported. Mugabe’s made his remarks at a women’s HIV/AIDS and gender rights conference in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital and largest city.
According to the group’s official website, four police officers tried to break into the building but were unsuccessful. Authorities then called for backup and "about fifteen riot squad members" came to the scene and forced their way into GALZ’s office.
"Police assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge," officials from the group wrote.
In all, 31 men and 13 women were arrested and detained at a local police station. According the group, human rights lawyers were sent on behalf of GALZ but were not allowed to see the detainees.
A website named allAfrica reports that Marufu Nabdevere of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told a local radio station that the group was getting together for a workshop on the draft constitution and to release their "Violations Report."
"After the workshop they had a party and that is when police cordoned off their offices. They took almost everyone there to Harare Central Station and detained them without charge," Mandevere said.
The allAfrica article also claims that police were "visibly drunk" when they arrived at the GALZ headquarters.
A spokesman or the police denied accusations that authorities implemented because they are anti-gay and insists that the GALZ supporters were taken to the police station for "screening."