Thursday, 16 September 2010

In Zimbabwe's state assault on organised LGBT, defence lawyers call for case dismissal

Ignatius Muhambi, left and Ellen Chademana employees of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe(GALZ), arrive at the magistrates courts in Harare
Source: The Zimbabwean

Lawyers representing a Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) employee, Ellen Agnes Chademana, who is facing charges of possessing pornographic material in breach of censorship laws, have filed an application for discharge, following the closure of the State’s case.

Charges against Chademana arose when police raided the GALZ offices in May, alleging that the organisation was in possession of dangerous drugs and pornographic material. The police claimed that they found a pornographic picture of men engaged in sexual acts in a folder entitled 'Gender Meetings and Minutes 2006 and 2007'.

The application for discharge stated there was no evidence to prove the “essential elements” and asked the court to return a verdict of not guilty.

The defence argued that the two witnesses brought by the State had actually exonerated the accused, who said she had not know about by the picture. The State had also failed to prove that the pictures recovered were “indecent, obscene or prohibited within the contemplation of the Act”.

State prosecutor Rufaro Mhandu told the court that the State would respond to the application on September 15 and the magistrate has set the judgement date for September 30.

Meanwhile GALZ said it refused to be silenced by politicians, arrests and intimidation in an attempt to block them from lobbying and advocating for the inclusion of gay and lesbian rights in the new constitution.
GALZ Gender Programme Manager Fadzai Muparutsa said the government made it difficult for them to carry out gay and lesbian civil education in the country.

“We are continuing our work for the purposes of serving the marginalised. We believe that it's not only difficult for GALZ but for other organisations that promote human rights,” she said.

Muparutsa said her organisation was not promoting homosexuality in the country but advocating for tolerance and respect of gays and lesbians.

In the past, Robert Mugabe has compared homosexuals to pigs and dogs and has stated that homosexuality “degrades human dignity”. – By Miles Tanhira and Tavada Mafa


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