Zimbabwe police storm hotel to arrest gay group leaders
After Robert Mugabe hinted to a further crackdown of LGBTIs in his country, police have accused a gay rights group of holding meetings without permission
Zimbabwe police stormed a hotel to arrest two gay group leaders today (12 March).
The Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) were holding a media training course for around 20 human rights defenders in Bronte Hotel in the city of Harare.
Authorities arrived at the hotel and demanded to see the organizers of the meeting.
The officers insisted on seeing the IDs of participants, and wrote down their names and addresses.
The training facilitator and GALZ Youth coordinator were both taken to the central police station where they were questioned and charged under Section 25 (5) of Public Order Security Act (POSA) before being released.
According to gay rights activists, this law is normally applied to target critics of Robert Mugabe and groups deemed to be ‘pro-Western’.
It reads: ‘Any organizer of a public meeting, demonstration or procession who fails to give the police advance notice in accordance with POSA is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $2000 (€1440) or a year’s imprisonment or both.’
GALZ, which continues to be a target of attack by the state, is yet to release a formal statement.
The gay rights group has won two court cases this year.
In January, GALZ won a High Court battle with the police following a raid in which police confiscated computers, materials and publications.
And a month later, the chair of GALZ won a High Court battle after the state accused him of running an unregistered organization.
The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has operated for years in Zimbabwe, despite Mugabe once threatening to cut LGBTI people’s heads off.