Zimbabwean gay rights activists released on bail

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A court in Harare, Zimbabwe, has today released on bail the two employees of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organisation who were arrested last Friday. Their trial is set for 10 June.

Ellen Chadehama (34) and Ignatius Mhambi (38) were arrested last Friday on allegations of possessing “indecent material” and displaying a letter on their office wall considered insulting to President Robert Mugabe. GALZ claim that the pair were assaulted by police while in custody. Defence Attorney David Hofisi also claimed that Ms Chadehama and Mr Mhambi were forced to squat with their arms outstretched for long periods of time and were struck with bottles whenever then weakened and lost balance.

Magistrate Munamate Mutevedzi released the defendants on bail set at $200 each until 10 June when they face potential imprisonment or a fine. Police allege that when they raided the GALZ offices last Friday they found photographs depicting gay and lesbian sex and a displayed letter of support for former San Francisco mayor, Willie Lewis Brown, which criticised President Robert Mugabe’s stance on homosexuality.

Mr Mugabe is a vociferous and outspoken homophobe who once stated his belief that LGBT people were “lower than dogs and pigs”.