Gays and Lesbians tear into Marriage Bill

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

FOR as long as the proposed new Marriage Amendment Bill does not talk about same-sex marriage, it remains unaccommodative, the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has said.

The Bill outlaws same-sex marriages, as prohibited by the Constitution. Government is in the process of re-aligning the country’s marriage laws to the new Constitution adopted at a referendum in 2013.

However, the proposed law has turned controversial over the status of relationships outside wedlock with a section that Cabinet has since decided to remove having indicated that such relationship would give women involved rights to property sharing.

Galz programmes manager Sam Matsikure told in an interview that the proposed law is discriminatory.

“The proposed bill simply reinforced what is in the Constitution on same-sex marriage reality.

“But again marriage isn’t a priority for the community since simply basic rights are not respected and no protection as equal citizens. For now it’s not inclusive of minority groups,” Matsikure said.

In its definition section, the Bill defines a marriage as a solemnised union, recognised and registered or organised in terms of the Act between people of the opposite sex.

Last week, Cabinet succumbed to pressure and struck off Section 40 of the Bill, which was construed by some to empower ‘small houses’ and ‘promote adultery’, a colloquial term for extra-marital affairs indicating this part of the proposed law was against Zimbabwe’s culture and traditional norms.

But opposition MP Tendai Biti has argued the move by the government to have the section removed was illegal demanding that the Bill be brought before Parliament first.

“Surely the regime’s Cabinet has no right to withdraw Section 40 of the Marriages Bill from Parliament. The public and Parliament itself must debate the clause. Civil partnerships are a hard reality and they cannot be deleted from Zimbabwe’s geo space. Law must deal with same,” Biti said last week.