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Tsvangirai takes gay crusade on the road
30/10/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Gay advocate ... Morgan Tsvangirai
 
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PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has taken his gay crusade to Matabeleland North, even as he insisted that the debate over relaxing anti-homosexual legislation was “not useful”.

The MDC-T leader touched off a storm after telling the BBC in London that a new Zimbabwe constitution must respect gay rights.

Since then, his party has been in damage limitation mode after a fierce backlash from many Zimbabweans who have condemned his U-turn – just a year after he endorsed President Robert Mugabe’s attack on gays.

But despite his party’s best attempts to explain away his remarks as his personal views and kill the debate, Tsvangirai thrust the matter back into the top of the news agenda at a rally in Pashu, Binga, on Friday.

“I am not gay,” Tsvangirai said. “I’m not going to prosecute anyone who is gay. I will protect their rights. I will not persecute them.”

Tsvangirai's suggestions gays are persecuted in Zimbabwe would appear to be off the mark. Although homosexual acts are illegal in Zimbabwe, the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe has an office in Harare. Chesterfield Samba, the organisation's director, said the police generally left them alone.

Zimbabwe’s new constitution has gone to the drafters, and a referendum could be held before the new year. Tsvangirai insists on one hand that whatever Zimbabweans decide on gay rights, he will be guided by it, but on the other he has become lead advocate for homosexual liberties.

“It is shocking that Zanu PF want to pursue issues which are not useful and which do not bring bread and butter to the table,” said Tsvangirai, clearly stung by Zanu PF criticism over his volte-face.

Some of Tsvangirai’s aides have been privately expressing their puzzlement over his exuberance in pushing an unpopular policy and almost turning it into an election issue.



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