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In Zimbabwe, final constitutional draft criminalizes homosexuality and marriage equality

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Homosexuality will be criminalized in Zimbabwe's new constitution, and gay marriage will remain banned, according to the final draft.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has advocated including gay rights in the new constitution, but President Robert Mugabe is adamantly opposed to equality for Zimbabwe's LGBT community. The two politicians have had a power-sharing deal since 2008, each heading two powerful political parties that don't often agree on issues.

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have decried widespread reports of human rights violations in Zimbabwe, and the LGBT community suffers as a result.

The nation has a population of about 12 million, and about 85% of residents are of the Christian faith.

One of the co-chairs of the Constitution Select Committee, Edward Mkhosi, told ZimEye.org that the anti-gay stance is in line with the views of a majority of Zimbabweans:

“During the outreach programme, everyone said ‘no’ to gays and lesbians and, as the drafters, we heed what people say. Contrary to media reports that the homosexuality issue was causing infighting, the people were clear; we did not waste time on it."

Mkhosi also falsely claims that homosexuality is a Western import:

“The new constitution will be built upon our past and traditions. Homosexuality is a foreign concept. Our culture, our tradition and our increasingly Christian outlook do not permit us to legalize homosexuality and same-sex marriages. That is the reason why homosexuality is illegal and will remain illegal.”

Paul Mangwana, another co-chair of the committee, thumbed his nose at the LGBT community:

“We removed anything to do with homosexuals. We were all agreed that Zimbabwe is not a country that makes friends with gays. The people clearly, without any doubt, said ‘no’ to homosexuals. If gays and their supporters harbour hopes that homosexuality might be legalized in Zimbabwe, they should forget it. Homosexuality has been shut out of the constitution and there is no going back on that.”

Groups such as the Sexual Rights Centre had testified in favor of including gay rights in the new constitution.

Under current law, sexual activity between consenting adult males is illegal under laws dating to the British colonial era.

For further understanding of the lack of LGBT rights in Zimbabwe, click HERE.