Zimbabwean gay activists due in court today

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The two employees of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) human rights group who were arrested last Friday in the country’s capital, Harare, are expected to appear in court this afternoon after five nights in custody.

Ellen Chadehama (34) and Ignatius Muhambi (38) were arrested pertaining to allegations that they were in possession of “indecent material”. Police raided their offices last Friday and confiscated several documents and computer files along with videotapes that they claimed contained pornography.

However, Kumbirai Mafunda, a lawyer with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told Bloomberg News on Monday that police allege the accused “displayed a plaque from former San Francisco mayor Willie Lewis Brown in their office in which the African-American denounces President Mugabe’s homophobia”.

Homosexual acts, including kissing, hugging and hand-holding, are all illegal in Zimbabwe. When GALZ came to President Robert Mugabe’s attention in 2005 he said: “I find it. . . repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organisations 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.”

Chesterfield Samba, another employee of GALZ said: “Harassment and victimisation of LGBT people might occur without recourse to the law [in Zimbabwe].”