I was appalled to read The Herald front page article this morning: President, PM speak on gays
It was particularly worrying to read Tsvangirai’s flippant remarks about homosexuality, given the MDC’s supposed founding principles of tolerance and human rights.
I resonated deeply with Delta’s blog on exactly this issue:
I live in a country where there are too many loud prejudiced voices, standing piously on the moral high ground, their sanctimonious gospel of intolerance surpassed only by the blinding glare of their fake halos.
Find Kubatana’s open letter to the MDC below. We look forward to being able to publish the MDC’s response soon.
RE: Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s comments in The Herald, March 26, 2010
The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe is very concerned with what we have read in the article entitled “President, PM speak on gays” in The Herald of March 26, 2010.
The article quotes Tsvangirai in these two paragraphs:
PM Tsvangirai concurred saying: “President mataura nyaya yemagay rights, yevamwe varume vanofemera munzeve dzevamwe varume. [“President you talked about gay rights, of men who breathe in the ears of other men.”]
“Bodo, apowo handibvumirane nazvo. Unogodirei kutsvaga mumwe murume yet vakadzi make up 52 percent (of the population)? Varume titori vashoma,” [“No, I do not agree with that. Why would you look for a man when women make up 52% of the population? We men are actually fewer,”] he said.
It is even more worrying that these remarks were made as part of International Women’s Day celebrations in Chitungwiza, where the theme was “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All.” The comments made by the Prime Minister speak more to “Equal Rights for Some” – not All.
Is The Herald article an accurate quotation of the remarks made by the Prime Minister’s in Chitungwiza?
If it is an accurate reflection of the Prime Minister’s response, and his personal views, what is the position of the MDC about homosexuality, gay rights and the protection of gay rights in the Constitution?
The Parliament of Uganda is currently debating the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, an extremely worrying and homophobic piece of legislation. This Bill draws strength from its assertion that homosexuality is “unafrican”. However, this assertion goes against the truth of history and culture, which finds instances of same-sex sexual relations between men and women across Africa, throughout time.
You can read the opinion of respected Ugandan human rights lawyer Sylvia Tamale, denouncing this bill, here:
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe has been at the foreground of campaigning for gay rights, and have a wealth of literature available explaining the history of homosexuality in Africa. This history makes it clear that homosexuality is not a “Western import,” nor is it a response to demographic pressures in which one gender outnumbers the other.
The remarks attributed to the Prime Minister in The Herald suggest a simplistic, populist view of homosexuality. Is the Prime Minister seriously making an argument that because women out number men in Zimbabwe, men should not be in relationships with other men? If so, he is making an insulting, demeaning argument, which belittles the thousands of Zimbabwean men for whom homosexuality is their personal identity.
One’s sexuality is as integral a part of someone’s humanity as their race, gender, and religion. A Constitution that protects Zimbabweans against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is thus as essential as one that prevents discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.
When political leaders discriminate against one segment of the population in order to gain popularity with another, it encourages prejudice. This prejudice can easily fuel violence, hatred, and intolerance, which can divide the country. It is imperative that politicians use their public profile and status to promote tolerance, encourage diversity, and embrace all sectors of the population. To do otherwise is an egregious, offensive violation of the spirit of democracy, peace, human rights and ubuntu on which the Movement for Democratic Change is founded.
The Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe