A Zimbabwean government minister has warned tribal chiefs to resist the entry of foreign cultures into the country and said there was no room for so-called foreign practices like LGBT rights in the country’s new constitution.
‘Those fighting for gay rights are disobeying God who created us in his image,’ Resident Minister Jason Machaya told the chiefs.
Machaya claimed that tribal chiefs had the power to ban their subjects from adopting aspects of other cultures.
‘The land belongs to chiefs who were given the sovereign right by God to rule,’ Machaya said.
‘Let us collectively fight the enemy who is trying to destabilize our nation through introduction of foreign cultures.’
Machaya’s comments come during a week in which his government was condemned by global human rights group Human Rights Watch who criticized Zimbabwe for its harassment of LGBT activists.
The group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) have been repeatedly raided by police during August, with the group’s computers and files seized on August 20 and 44 of its members held overnight without charge on August 11.
‘This latest police raid on the country’s leading LGBT group shows the government’s intolerance of the rights of Zimbabwe’s sexual and gender minorities,’ said Monica Tabengwa, a LGBT rights researcher with Human Rights Watch.
‘By intimidating and harassing members of GALZ, the authorities are violating their rights to freedom of expression and association.’
‘The government and people of Zimbabwe should consider the ongoing constitutional review a critically important opportunity to embrace and promote the human rights of all, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.’
Human Rights Watch have written to Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister and President to raise the issue.