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Tsvangirai’s remarks on homosexuals egregious

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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

12 comments to “Tsvangirai’s remarks on homosexuals egregious”

  1. Comment by wiliam chiweshe:

    I guess these were his personal remarks but if the MDC expects electoral victory they also have to be careful as Zimbabweans are generally conservative in outlook, especially on an issue like this one.

  2. Comment by THE DALAI LAMA:

    I support him 200% on this one. For once I also agree with Mugabe. I certainly do not support anything homosexual and I believe I am like the majority of Zimbabweans and other Africans at large. I believe that the world has been made the worst place to live by an extension of these so called rights. I bet we will see women walking naked one day if we live the next 3 decades, all in the name of rights. Humans like all other creatures, need some form of control to make this world a better place for all. The more we try to be modern , the more complicated life becomes.

    I hear it has become almost impossible to control your own kids in developed countries especially The UK. If you can not control them and teach them humanity as kids, what kind of generation do you expect in the future?

    What I am trying to say is that there must be limits to Human rights. The other issue is that the developed world expects Africa and other third world countries to be at their level without taking due consideration on their own cultures and levels of development. Africa in general, I believe is not yet ripe for legalising issues such as abortion and homosexuality. I rest my case.

  3. Comment by Jamie McLaren:

    A Headline in The Sunday Times reads Being Gay in Zimbabwe. The article following was well written and the young man being interviewed – well spoken. I think it is imperative for people like The Dalai Lama to read such articles. The young man being interviewed gives a personal account of how he has been ‘outed’ in an intolerant society: Outed and Proud. But also booted Out. The sooner governments start supporting the people as opposed to mowing them down (in any area – not just issues on homosexuality) the more like great leaders they will become.
    ‘A good leader has confidence in himself. A great leader inspires confidence in others.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

  4. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Clouding the issue:

    [...] on from last week’s controversy, a Herald headline today reads: Tsvangirai flip-flops on gay [...]

  5. Comment by Ticha:

    We dont need public opinion on gay issues, thats totally bad and there is no need to apologise. I agree with Mugabe and Tsvangirai in all totality about this issue. If male dogs understand that they need a lady dog to have sex and they shun the sewage pipe (annal passage) but men have been so wicked and dicided to double task the anal passage. This is bad

  6. Comment by Newton:

    These guys are right and it is a rare occusation that they agree on a subject. Homosexuality is inhuman and even animals can not do that.

  7. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » No place for intolerance - Tsvangirai:

    [...] column to speak out on tolerance of difference, and effectively responded to the anti-homosexual remarks attributed to him in The Herald recently. Thank you Tsvangirai for clarifying your position on [...]

  8. Comment by Bev Clark:

    Hello Ticha

    I’m presuming that when you say men are so wicked that you also mean heterosexual men because quite often heterosexual men (those men who go to Church and pray and look nice in public) also like to plough the sewage pipe (anal) passage of women when they have sex? So, maybe hetersosexual men shouldn’t have any rights protected in the Constitution.

  9. Comment by Primrose Matambanadzo:

    The extent to which Zimbabwe is endowed with narrow thinking, prejudiced individuals saddens me. No one has the right to limit what is allowed to be publicly discussed. Attempts to do so is one of the most serious problems we have in Zimbabwe today. The fear of allowing the issue to be publicly discussed may be driven by the fear that people may conclude there is nothing inhuman about having a different sexual orientation? or that more understanding may be sought by those who think more broadly than the narrow path of people bashing?

    I am amused by the comment ‘next naked women will be walking down the street.’ Its right along the path of bashing women for not conforming to patriarchal norms in much the same way as homosexuality does not conform to these norms and makes those protected by them uncomfortable.

  10. Comment by Kubatana.net speaks out from Zimbabwe » Blog Archive » Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe speaks out:

    [...] (GALZ) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum today co-hosted a press conference about the anti-gay statements in The Herald last week. Here is the press statement they released today: Open letter to the [...]

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