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Zimbabwe: 35 injured when homophobes attack LGBT group's private party

(Editor's note: GALZ -- Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe -- issued this statement on their website.)

GALZ would like to express dismay and shock at the prevailing climate of violence, harassment and impunity in Zimbabwe. This “campaign of violence” has left us reeling in disbelief. Recently a woman was dehumanized at a commuter omnibus rank, a video circulating on social media depicts a young woman being harassed by men who were attempting to pull down her dress including her undergarments.

At a private end of year GALZ event held on 19 December, three vehicles forced their way into the venue of the party demanding to join the event. One of the occupants of the vehicles produced a pistol and threatened the GALZ security team that was manning the gate for denying them access to the event. The unidentified men numbering between 12 and 15 entered the venue and started beating people using logs, iron bars, empty beer bottles and clenched fists. The men also demanded cash and gadgets from the members present in the hall whilst attacking them.

An estimated 35 members suffered injuries as a result of the indiscriminate attacks by these men. A similar incident occurred at GALZ on 6 June 2013, five unknown men wielding hammers violently forced entry into the GALZ offices disrupting a meeting in progress. Despite the Police acting swiftly in arresting these men, to date, no progress has been made on the case and the men are still to be charged as with this case, this is not a random act of attempted robbery but that of militia acting on someone’s superior orders to orchestrate violence.

Whilst the existence of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe cannot be disputed anymore, thanks largely to the powerful help of President Mugabe’s rhetoric, this has created a climate and culture of impunity and lawlessness as evidenced by the actions of these thuggish men to hunt down LGBTI people in our communities, vicinities, and homes to inflict harm.

We are a country beset with a multitude of problems – soaring unemployment, poverty, a flailing economy, HIV/AIDS and a fragile health service, to name but a few. As Zimbabweans, we are a people already suffering severe hardships and organized violence should not be one of these problems at all.

It is time that the affected communities of women and LGBTI people included, stand up to the men that continue to inflict harm on vulnerable communities and make sure that they stop. The LGBTI people of Zimbabwe must be allowed to exercise their constitutional freedoms and rights within the provisions of laws that are compatible with democratic principles. We would like to reaffirm our abhorrence for any form of organised violence against the citizens of this country and we insist that such incidents must never again be repeated.

GALZ calls on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to act swiftly to any proponents of violence by arresting the men that have led a de -facto coup of the country’s public spaces rendering them inaccessible.

The Police should further protect all people regardless of gender and/ or sexual orientation.

We would also like to reiterate the call from Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe to the Minister of home affairs to ensure that public spaces are safe and accessible by all.

GALZ does not condone violence and we are not a threat. Those who cause violence are a threat to public safety and security and we ask that they stay away from our events.