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Nelson Chamisa’s Position On LGBTQ Rights Divides Zimbabweans

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Nelson Chamisa’s Position On LGBTQ Rights Divides Zimbabweans

 

 

Opposition politician Nelson Chamisa’s position on LGBTQ rights has been put under the microscope by Zimbabweans online. This comes after Chamisa participated in an online discussion hosted by South African opposition politician Musi Maimane. The discussion was titled “Maimane Mondays: Democracy and Africa with Nelson Chamisa.”

During the discussion, the question of Chamisa’s position on the rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people was raised. Chamisa responded saying that he would stand guided by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe does not recognise gay rights. According to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman.  Article 78(3) states that ‘Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other’. The constitution was adopted in 2013 following a constitutional referendum. The new constitution was approved by 94.5% of voters.

In May 2019, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet approved amendments to Zimbabwean marriage law, which would ban both child marriages and same-sex marriages, lining it with the Constitution.

A 2006 revision to the country’s criminal code criminalized any actions perceived as homosexual. The law made it a criminal offence for two men to hold hands, hug, or kiss or commit a acts that “would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act.” The offence can carry an extended prison term.

Section 74 of the Zimbabwean criminal code reads:

‘…any male person who, with the consent of another male person, knowingly performs with that other person anal sexual intercourse, or any act involving physical contact other than anal sexual intercourse that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act, shall be guilty of sodomy and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both.’

Nelson Chamisa’s position on LGBTQ rights seems to not have gone down well with some. Frustrated LGBTQ supporters questioned why they should vote for him when he does not actively support them. Many declared that they would, in fact, never vote for Chamisa.

Some also expressed concerns that the rights of the minority are being subject to the tyranny of the majority. However, others highlighted that this would be political suicide.

They argued that Zimbabwe is still very conservative regarding such issues. Many follow (or associate themselves with ) Christianity and African traditional religion. Both of these frown upon LGBTQ rights and any candidate who supports LBGTQ rights risks alienating the majority.

 

 

Nelson Chamisa's Position On LGBTQ Rights Divides Zimbabweans
Nelson Chamisa’s Position On LGBTQ Rights Divides Zimbabweans

 

 

The issue has been receiving a lot of attention and engagement on social media. Below are some of the reactions of Zimbabweans online on Nelson Chamisa’s position on LBGTQ rights.

 

 

Ironically, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa was asked the same question shortly after coming into power, he also said that he would honour the constitution. In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2018, President Mnangagwa said,

Those people who want it are the people who should canvass for it, but it’s not my duty to campaign for this.

In our constitution, it is banned — and it is my duty to obey my constitution.

Former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe was rabidly opposed to LGBTQ rights and was not shy about making his feelings known. In 1995, after seeing a stall set up by the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) at the country’s annual International Book Fair in Harare, Mugabe infamously said,

 

I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organizations, like those of homosexuals, who offend both against the law of nature and the cultural norms espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and elsewhere in the world.

 

A few weeks later, Mugabe made worldwide headlines when he compared LGBTQ people to dogs and pigs. Speaking during the independence celebrations, Mugabe said

It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings? We have our own culture, and we must re-dedicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings. … What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behaviour and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as Lesbians and Gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police!

In 2015, Mugabe told the United Nations General Assembly “we [Zimbabweans] are not gay”.

 

Where do you stand on this issue? Please let us know in the comments below.

 


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