Zimbabwean Government hostility towards gays thwarting battle against HIV

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The Zimbabwean Government’s hostility towards gay people is hampering the country’s ability to tackle HIV, a leading gay rights campaigner has warned.

Chesterfield Samba, the director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), said intolerance was reducing efforts aimed at addressing health issues.

Around 15% of Zimbabwe’s population are living with HIV.

The Zimbabwean reports Mr Samba said: “We are trying to create an enabling environment but there are some challenges that we meet when it comes to engaging with the political leadership.”

The campaigner urged Zimbabwe to look at revising its anti-gay laws.

“We are saying that there must be a revision of laws that inhibit CSOs and the government from engaging on issues of key populations.”

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

President Robert Mugabe is 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.

The Zanu PF leader branded Archbishop Desmond Tutu “evil” in July 2013 for speaking out in favour of gay rights.

Mugabe also urged for the heads of gay men to be chopped off and said gay people were worse than “pigs, goats and birds” during a speech to Zanu PF supporters in the same month.