By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE #ZimbabweLivesMatter campaign on social media has inspired gays and lesbians to pick up the momentum and also call for their own rights to be respected in Zimbabwe.
@KingBillius posted, “Seeing as homophobia is now in the #ZimbabweLivesMatter discourse, allow me to politely remind you once again that the queer community has been on the frontlines of the fight for human rights and free expression since the 90s.”
@lasizwe also posted on twitter, “I wish for violation for human rights in Zimbabwe to stop and the rights of the LGBTQI+ to be treated equally, we are human.”
But this ignited angry remarks from some homophobic social media users who criticised the gay community for allegedly trying to piggyback on the current human rights discourse that has gained global attention following state brutalities visited upon citizens protesting corruption and poor governance in Zimbabwe.
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) programme manager Sam Matsikure said this is why this conversation was important.
“It’s not about pushing the gayness in anyone but tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ persons in society without stigmatising them or discrimination,” Matsikure said.
“Yes, some may be silent and not flounce it off.
“Those who are and know do face discrimination, abuse, violence, dismissal from social places and economic opportunities in homophobic societies like ours.
“Even political opponents call each other ‘Gay gangsters’ to score points because it revamps up emotions.
“We are taught one has to feel shame for being gay and those who do not understand it feel hate.”
Pan Africa ILGA said it was time to amplify LGBTQ voices.
“In the midst of human rights violations, we are witnessing in Zimbabwe, we must amplify the voices of those who are marginalised and vulnerable #ZimbabweLivesMatters.
“All Zimbabweans matter. Disabled Zimbabweans, elderly Zimbabweans, rural Zimbabweans, Zimbabwean women, LGBTQIA+ Zimbabweans, mine worker Zimbabweans, informal trader Zimbabweans, unemployed Zimbabweans.”
Until now, Zimbabwe remains a highly conservative society which frowns upon homosexuality.
While former President Robert Mugabe was unequivocal in his condemnation of gays, his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has kept his silence on the matter.