ZIMBABWE born director and founder of Hona Africa, Lawrence Zidyana, has released a short film which unravels the impact of homophobia in the country.
Zidyana teamed up with award winning Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) activist Moud Goba to adapt a poem by activist Tinashe Wakapila into the film.
“I hope African people see the film and then at least pause to consider what their leaders are telling them in regards of Homophobia, everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of sexuality,” said Zidyana.
The film, titled ‘Because I Am’, was inspired by the lived realities of homosexuals in the country which is predominantly Christian and led by a president who likens them to dogs.
“He (Zidyana) was inspired to make the film to show how hatred impacted the LGBT community of Zimbabwe and the wider country as a whole,” said Hona Africa in a statement.
“As the country’s leadership continues to share homophobic rhetoric, many LGBT Zimbabweans have to seek refuge internationally including the UK.”
At the September United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Mugabe reiterated his discomfort with LGBTIs when rejecting what he called “new rights” and declared “we are not gays” to both muted laughter and applause.
“This is an indication of the wide spread view that the LGBT community does not deserve any basic human rights, leading to hate crimes and harassment across the nation,” Hona Africa said.
While Zimbabwe has not recorded any homophobic murders, they have taken place in other African countries including Sierra Leone and South Africa.
In South Africa, lesbians have been victims of “corrective rape” as society tries impose heterosexual relationships on them. Several times, the police have raided the Gays and Lesbians
Association of Zimbabwe offices.
‘Because I Am’ has already been screened in New York at the I Imagine Film Festival. The festival runs concurrently with the UN general assembly.
The film has an all-women cast of six, five of whom are refugees who fled persecution in their own countries because of their sexuality.
Exiled from Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the women share experiences of the LGBT community in Africa.
“They have shown great courage and helped me shape this film. I hope more African people see the film and then at least pause to consider what their leaders are telling them in regards to homophobia.Advertisement
“Everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of sexuality,” said Zidyana, adding that the film will also be screened in Copenhagen, Denmark next January.
Africa is still largely intolerant of sexual orientations outside heterosexuality. Zimbabwe’s constitution is silent on LGBT rights.