Zimbabwe: Efforts against HIV suffering through anti-gay discrimination

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Members of Zimbabwe’s leading gay rights group, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) have noted anti-gay discrimination as having had a negative impact on efforts to halt new HIV infections.

A senior official with GALZ, who requested to remain anonymous, told the media that efforts against HIV were being negatively impacted by homophobic stigma and discrimination by public health care providers.

“We have a number of our members who are infected with sexually transmitted infections who have visited public hospitals and ended up coming back without being treated because of questions they were asked by nurses,” he said.

“Some of our members suffering from STI are taking up to a year before seeking treatment because they are afraid to be asked these embarrassing questions,” he said.

He said GALZ would help those to seek treatment outside of Zimbabwe, “because of the stigma and politics associated with homosexuality in Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, leader of Zanu PF, is well known for his anti-gay views and polices.

The 90-year-old said in April that he “pities” the Queen, for having to deal with Britain’s “gay habits”.

Days prior Mugabe threatened to expel any diplomats who mention homosexuality in Zimbabwe.

In March, Mugabe defended Uganda’s anti-gay legislation by saying it’s a “human right” for men to marry women.

He has also tried to ban gay rights campaigners from operating in this country.