ZIMBABWE’S gays and lesbians on Tuesday demanded legislative changes to legalise sodomy – saying the law as it stands unfairly lumps homosexuals with rapists.
The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) said it wanted the law to make a distinction between “consensual” and “enforced sodomy”.
“There is no distinction under Zimbabwean law between consensual same sex conduct, which GALZ believes should be decriminalised, and enforced sodomy which should be retermed rape,” the homosexual rights campaign group said in a statement.
GALZ was reacting to the arrest of a police officer last week for sodomising a 10-year-old boy.
GALZ said it deplored “sexual atrocities against children”, but demanded law reforms to end “confusions that have led to a situation of injustice since the law on sodomy lacks clarity, certainty and consistency.”
The group argued: “Thinking on sodomy in Zimbabwean society is muddled and the issues need to be clarified in order that justice be done: sodomy per se is not wrong or harmful to society but rape, sexual abuse, physical violence, abuse of authority and sexual relations between adults and minors are criminal acts and it is correct that they be punishable by law.
“Recently, there has been a trend in the media to equate sodomy with rape. This is alarming because it promotes the dangerous myth that homosexual men are automatically rapists and abusers of children.”
Zimbabwe is a strictly conservative country and calls for legalising homosexuality are not new, and the response from the government is also age-old.
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have both voiced opposition to the legalisation of homosexuality under a new constitution currently at drafting stage.
Mugabe once said gays were "worse than pigs and dogs", and in March last year, Tsvangirai drew fire from human rights groups when he declared: “I totally agree with the President. Women make up 52% of the population... There are more women than men, so why should men be proposing to men?"