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Pull out an umbrella because its about to rain on the parade. Well, actually, if you are gay in Zimbabwe the storm will continue

New hopes for Zimbabwe misguided

Last week evil the evil dictator of Zimbabwe finally bowed to pressure and resigned from office. His resignation brought much fanfare and cheers. ““I’m so very, very happy. Farewell to the president, goodbye,”  said one  gatherer outside of parliament after his resignation letter was read. This week Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as president. There in lies the problem if you are gay in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mnangagwa is called the crocodile and its not for his docile nature.

This is the man who has headed up the feared intelligence agency as well as the defense and justice ministries during times of state oppression and brutality. He is tainted by accusations of his involvement in the Matebeleland massacres in the 1980s. Opposition figures say he was the mastermind behind election violence, vote rigging and the plundering of Zimbabwe’s natural resources. Years ago, the US State Department slapped sanctions on Mnangagwa and others in response to what the Americans called, “acts of violence and other human rights abuses against political opponents.” Those sanctions remain in force. CNN

This man is still part of the old guard elite. He was once one of Mughabe’s lieutenants that has benefited from the way the system is now. I suspect there will be nominal changes at best in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe was once a great empire

Ruins of Great ZImbabwe

While the western media often portrays Zimbabwe–and frankly all of Black Africa–as an wasteland filled with AIDS and ignorance nothing could be further from the truth. Zimbabwe was once home to a great empire The Kingdom of Zimbabwe. It’s capital city Great Zimbabwe had the largest stone structures in pre-colonial southern Africa. The Kingdom of Zimbabwe lasted from 1220-1450AD. They controlled vast swaths of land and  controlled the ivory and gold trade from the interior to the southeastern coast of Africa. Asian and Arabic goods could be found in abundance in the kingdom.

While modern Africans will call homosexuality ‘un-african’ there is evidence that hatred of homosexuality is in fact a western import:

In Boy-Wives and Female Husbands, a book examining homosexuality and feminism in Africa, the researchers found ‘‘explicit” Bushman artwork that depicts men engaging in same-sex sexual activity. There have been other indicators that the transition from boyhood to adulthood within many African ethnic groups involved same-sex sexual activities.  The Guardian

It still sucks to be gay in Zimbabwe

Homosexuality is still very much illegal in Zimbabwe. Laws passed in 2006 criminalize any actions perceived as homosexual. The government has made it a criminal offense for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug, or kiss.  Officially the penalty is jail time but the reality is much harsher. Many gay Zimbabweans fear for their lives at worst and face a life of shame and ostracism at best.

Here’s the account of one relatively well off gay men in Zimbabwe:

Amina was born in Kadoma, a mining town in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland west province, and knew as a young boy that he was attracted to other boys.

“I have always known that I was different, but I didn’t really know that I was gay; at the age of 11, that’s when I knew that I was attracted to other boys. At first I thought I was alone, but my other friends gave me a clear picture of who really I was – gay,” Amina said.

It was in 2011 when his secret came out, after Amina’s father caught his son and then-lover together at a party.

Spiritual healers were engaged in a desperate bid to change him and his sexuality.

“The more my family took me to prophets and traditional healers, the more gay I became. They (my family) thought I had a spiritual challenge,” said Amina.

When photographs of Amina at a gay party appeared in the local press a year later, his father could take it no more.

Amina was thrown out of the family home in disgrace – a fate typical for many gays and lesbians in conservative Zimbabwe. Reunters

HIV still remains high in ZImbabwe with sex-workers being disproportionately affected “more than half of all sex workers in Zimbabwe are living with HIV with a last recorded prevalence of 57.1% in 2016.”  Avert.org. 

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No change in site

So far there is zero evidence that Emmerson Mnangagwa  will change any of this. Anti-homosexuality is still a popular play for politicians to garner support against the ‘western or white’ overlords. Not wanting to submit to their former white oppressors is understandable and commendable but in this case what Zimbabwe is doing to its LGBT populace is not only wrong it is cruel.

In regards to homosexuality he has stated:

“With regards to areas that we felt we would not accept, it is issues of gays and homosexuality, which is unlawful in our country. We rejected all those.

“There are a few countries from Europe which recommended we reconsider our position with regard to adults of same sex marrying each other that we rejected.”

Mnangagwa also insisted that Zimbabweans will “reject attempts to prescribe ‘new rights’ that are contrary to our norms, values, traditions and beliefs”. PinkNews

There is no popular support for Mr. Mnangagwa to change the country’s stance on homosexuality nor have  we seen any indication that he feels any moral compulsion to do so. Therefore in the mean time our prayers go out to our gay brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe

 

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