Forty-four members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) were brutally arrested yesterday and released today (12 August) without charges.
Four Zimbabwe police officers attempted to gain entry to the GALZ office in the nation’s capital, Harrare on Saturday (11 August).
The police officers called for back up and around 15 riot squad officers descended on the office and effected arrest.
The riot squad and police officers were reported to have assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge.
One member was reported to be bleeding through the ear after the assault.
Thirty-one men and 13 women members were detained at Harare central police station over night.
Zimbabwean human rights lawyers were denied access to see them.
The arrests came following the launch of the GALZ ‘Violations Report’ and briefing on the second draft Zimbabwe constitution.
GALZ reported that ‘all 44 members have now been released and are we are working with them to assess their condition and well-being.’
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.
In 1995, the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, came across a GALZ stall in an international book fair in Harrare and stated: ‘I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organizations, like those of homosexuals, who offend both against the law of nature and the morals of religious beliefs espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and elsewhere in the world.’
Two weeks later during Zimbabwe’s annual independence celebrations Mugabe proclaimed: ‘It degrades human dignity.
‘It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs.
‘What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behavior and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police!’
Since then, President Mugabe has increased the political repression of Zimbabwe’s LGBT community. GALZ has been repeatedly subjected to harassment.
Members of the Zimbabwe’s LGBT community have been repeatedly detained, beaten and sometimes even raped by the authorities.