Is it legal to be gay?
- Illegal to be gay.
- It was back in 1891 that same-sex sexual activity was made illegal in the country now known as Zimbabwe — this is another example of British colonial rule impacting contemporary life for gay men around the world.
- But we can’t blame it all on Britain — in 2006 the Zimbabwe government decided to strengthen the common law position and passed additional laws to specifically criminalise any actions perceived as being homosexual.
- It is now a criminal offence for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug, or kiss.
Is there anti-discrimination legislation in place?
- No protection.
- There was a court ruling in 2015 that suggested that “…no person should be fired from work on the basis of their sexual orientation…” however it’s unclear whether that appeal judgment has been upheld in any way as a precedent.
Is there marriage equality?
- No equality.
- Local support and advocacy group GALZ has confirmed that marriage is not currently on the agenda of Zimbabwe’s LGBTI community:
We still suffer from basic humiliations such as the criminalisation of sexual acts between men, violence, vitriolic verbal attacks and ridicule from our national leaders.
What’s it like for LGBTI who live there?
- Extremely dangerous.
- Zimbabwe is a socially conservative country.
- The current leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe (who has been in power since 1980) has consistently spoken out against homosexuality and actively supported anti-gay campaigns.
- Gay people are routinely bribed, detained, killed, beaten, and raped by Zimbabwe’s authorities.
- Suicide attempts are reportedly common among gay people.
- HIV and AIDS is a major health issue for Zimbabwe, with antiretroviral drugs too expensive for many people.
- GALZ is the local support and advocacy organisation.
What’s it like for LGBTI who visit?
- Proceed with extreme caution.
Overall rating and comments
- Country of extreme concern.
- Any LGBTI in this region are at high risk of personal harm and death.
How you can help
- Find ways to help publicise the stories and experiences of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe.
- Become a member of local support and advocacy group GALZ.
- Make a donation to GALZ.
- Use your networks to raise awareness of the challenges faced by LGBTI people in Zimbabwe.
- Lobby your political representatives to raise concerns regarding Zimbabwe’s criminalisation of same-sex sexual activities through any available diplomatic channels.