Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Zimbabwe: confirmation of Tsvangari abandonment of LGBT

Morgan TsvangiraiImage via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

Confirmation has come that Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangari's opposition MDC-T party has abandoned protection for that country's LGBT community.

In a statement on Sunday the Select Committee for the country's new constitution (Copac) said that no protections for LGBT would be included and that their 'outreach teams' will not elicit any views on the issue.

Copac chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said last week:
“During the outreach training programme, the issue was never raised. The issue of gays and lesbians has been shunned by all the three principals to the Global Political Agreement."
The principals are Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

There has been confusion over the MDC-T position because the MDC-T submission to the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), made last October, says, under the Bill of Rights section, that:
In addition, the right to freedom from discrimination, given our history of discrimination and intolerance, must be broad to include the protection of personal preferences, that is gays and lesbians should be protected by the constitution.
Last month reported remarks by Zimbabwean Prime Minister and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangiri at a rally alongside President Robert Mugabe seemed to suggest his opposition to proposals that the country's new constitution offer protections for LGBT.

However, according to an open letter released at a press conference Wednesday 31 March by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Tsvangirai subsequently wrote in his weekly newsletter:

There can be no place in the new Zimbabwe for hate speech or the persecution of any sector of our population based on race, gender, tribe, culture, sexual orientation or political affiliation. All of us are entitled to our own opinions on certain values and beliefs, but in order to move our nation forward and achieve national reconciliation and healing, we have to uphold and foster the fundamental principle of tolerance, including tolerance of people that have chosen to live, believe and vote differently from ourselves.

For too long, many of you, my fellow Zimbabweans, have not had the freedom of choice. Our new constitution shall be the cornerstone of a new society that embraces this particular freedom of choice and tolerance of both majority and minority views.
Mangwana said it was key for the nation to focus on issues of development rather than to focus on "weird Western cultures".

“Other nations, particularly in the West, have positive views on the issue of gays and lesbians and have gone on to enact laws that recognise gay rights.

“Zimbabwe, as a nation, is guided by traditional morals and we cannot go to our communities and seek views on the necessity of such inhuman practices,’’ he said.
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