Zimbabwean PM Morgan Tsvangirai accused of ‘hate speech’ by gay rights group

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been criticised for denouncing homosexuality and reportedly saying marriage “should be between a man and a woman.”

Zimbabwe’s Herald Newspaper reports Mr Tsvangirai made the comments during a meeting this week in Harare, the country’s capital.

He is alleged to have said: “In the draft constitution, we said marriage is between a man and a woman and those who want to marry another from the same sex, then they have a problem. Why do you want to sleep with another man?”

Zimbabwe is to hold a referendum this Saturday on its draft constitution.

It explicitly bans same-sex marriage.

On Friday, Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe (GALZ) described Mr Tsvangirai’s comments as “reckless” and going against the inclusive legal spirit of the constitution.

In a statement it said: “GALZ is of the view that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s statements fuel public prejudice against LGBTI individuals and contradict the very preamble of a draft constitution that he is seemingly promoting”.

It added: “The PM has been jolted into castigating violence in Headlands recently however we find him equally guilty of inciting violence and advocating hatred and hate speech on the LGBTI community in Zimbabwe.”

Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Zimbabwe and since 1995 the government has carried out campaigns against gay men and lesbians.

Robert Mugabe, president since 1987, has been a staunch promoter of homophobic persecution.

He marked his 88th birthday party in February 2012 by urging gay people to go to “hell” in a public speech.

President Mugabe has also said gay people are worse than “pigs and dogs”.

Over the past few years, Morgan Tsvangirai appears to have done a U-turn on gay rights.

Speaking to the BBC in October 2011, he said gay rights were a “human right” that should be respected by Zimbabweans and that “freedom of sexual orientation” should be protected in his country’s constitution.

However, Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe said his latest comments prove the PM has failed to “uphold his commitment to human rights and the acceptance of diversity.”