Robert Mugabe says no to gay rights in Zimbabwe’s constitution

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Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has repeated his views on gay rights, saying they will not be protected in the country’s new constitution.

According to state media, he told an Apostolic Church gathering in the country’s Marange district: “We say no to gay rights, We will not listen to those advocating for their rights in the new constitution.”

The country is drawing up a new constitution as a result of an power-sharing deal between Mr Mugabe and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai after the disputed 2008 election.

Gay rights groups have pleaded for protection under the new legislation, but Mr Mugabe has been insistent that they will not be recognised.

Both Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai are openly and adamantly homophobic. Mr Mugabe once stated that gay people were “worse than pigs and dogs”.

Sodomy is illegal in Zimbabwe, although gay couples are rarely prosecuted. Including gay rights in the constitution would overturn this.

However, the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has warned that gays live in fear and are driven underground.

Despite the fact that lesbians are not criminalised, the group says they may be even more at risk than gay men because of traditional ideas of women’s sexuality.

GALZ usually escapes police harassment but two of its employees are currently facing charges of breaching censorship laws after a police raid in May allegedly found a porn DVD and booklets in their offices.