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Activists claim Zimbabwe media invent gay shock stories

According to LGBT activists from Zimbabwe the state controlled media is inventing controversial stories about gay people to legitimise political repression and persecution
Headquarters of the state controlled Herald paper have allegedly intentionally made up an anti-gay story to whip up moral panic in Zimbabwe

The Herald reported that Zimbabwe police in the city of Kadoma have arrested a ‘gay couple’ for homosexuality.

LGBT activists, however, say that the government owned daily paper made the report up in order to create media sensationalism designed to bolster proposed constitutional changes and further legitmise persecution of LGBT people in Zimbabwe.  

Activists also point out that the practice of inventing anti-gay sensationalist stories has been ongiong and intensifying in recent months.

The report claimed that police allegedly arrested on Wednesday (5 September) ‘Ability Chatira Mpofu (24) and Blessing Chauke (28)’, the latter described as ‘wearing female apparel including a skirt, wig and blouse’.

The article goes on to say that the couple ‘had been customarily married since 2011 when they were illegally working in South Africa’s Petersburg Town as game keepers.’

The article further alleged that ‘Mpofu paid the bride price and had been at the forefront in fending for Chauke who is the “female” part in the arrangement.’

It also said that ‘a search at the house led to the recovery of Lemonvet and Carolite skin lightening creams, a black wig, a white dress, black long skin tight pants and beards among other things’ as well as some South African currency.

The report stated that the couple appeared before ‘a Kadoma magistrate facing sodomy charges as defined in section 73(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Police got a tip-off that the couple was dealing in counterfeit South African Rand.’

Speaking with GSN Chesterfield Samba, the director of the Association of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) said: ‘Lately we have seen an increase of such stories in the state media which are designed to generate public outrage on LGBT issues.

‘If “Chauke” was a trans-woman or gay guy we would know about him, and no one in Kadoma knows a person who goes by that name.

‘GALZ is aware of all Trans individuals and their locations and most have relocated to South Africa.

‘The issue of marriage is a just a convenient attempt to link it to what is happening at the moment in an outrageous way.

‘It is an attempt to support the state agenda on whipping up emotions around the issue. There is a deliberate attempt to bring out the issue of marriage so that the public may voice their disapproval and in turn supporting Zanu Pf's agenda on the draft constitution.’

On the same day the supposed ‘couple’ have been arrest Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have alleged that his government partners, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are trying to introduce provisions on gay marriage into the new constitution being drafted.

The constitution will give further powers to Mugabe and further limit democracy in the country and GALZ suggest that this is designed to shore up support to Zanu PF and its proposed constitutional changes while weakening any opposition.

Earlier in May Mugabe vowed not to allow LGBT rights to be included in a new constitution being drafted.

According to Samba, the case above, which he alleges was made up is just one of several ‘stories that we have discredited and have verified to be hatchet jobs of the state media in pushing their agenda of portraying gays in bad light.’

GALZ said they have managed to disprove two stories which were reported last month by the state media, one allegedly of group sex and another of gay association run as a church which ‘recruited’ people into ‘homosexuality’ by promising them cash and gifts.

GALZ also reported that another story reported in June, of two buses loads of gays and lesbians who allegedly stormed family café goers was also proven by the association to be totally made up.

GALZ office has been raided twice last month and its members have been systematically arrested and persecuted since 1989.

Two weeks ago, the US State Department and Human Rights Watch called upon the Zimbabwe government to stop their persecution of GALZ and LGBT people.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe and in 2006 the country’s government amended the law which now states that sodomy is any ‘act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act’, thereby criminalizing even holding hands, hugging, or kissing.

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