A MAGISTRATE’S court on Thursday freed on bail two GALZ employees after six days in jail on allegations of possessing indecent material and displaying a placard seen as insulting to President Robert Mugabe.
The Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) claimed the two employees were assaulted by police while in custody.
Defense attorney David Hofisi said the two were also made to bend their knees into a sitting position with their arms outstretched for long periods and were struck with bottles when they weakened and fell.
Magistrate Munamate Mutevedzi released the two on bail of $200 each until a trial set for June 10, where they will face penalties of imprisonment or a fine. Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe.
Police allege the two employees possessed photographs of gay sex and posted a letter in their office from former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown criticizing the President Mugabe’s opposition to homosexuality.
GALS said both Ellen Chadehama, 34, and Ignatius Mhambi, 38 were married with children.
They were arrested last Friday on allegations under censorship laws and sweeping security laws making it an offense "to undermine the authority of the president."
State prosecutors had asked the court to deny bail.
Mutevedzi said provisions of Zimbabwe law on both allegations did not take into account the sexuality of suspected offenders.
"The generality of Zimbabweans’ pictures of a man and a man having sex would easily be regarded as morally reprehensible," he said.
President Mugabe has described same-sex partners as "lower than dogs and pigs" but arrests of gays are rare in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe has vowed not to allow gay rights to be written into a new constitution being drafted by the country’s coalition government.