Freedom House Denounces Harassment of LGBT Activists in Zimbabwe

Freedom House condemns the arrest of 44 gay rights activists following a police raid on the headquarters of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) in the capital city of Harare on Saturday, August 11. We call on the Zimbabwean authorities to stop the harassment and arbitrary detention of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups and urge the government to repeal Zimbabwe’s sodomy laws, which currently criminalize same-sex ‘hugging’.

The activists were reportedly preparing for the launch of a report on LGBT discrimination in Zimbabwe when police raided their headquarters, detaining them at Harare central police station where they were released on Sunday without charge. When asked about the raid, police spokesman James Sabu denied that the activists had been arrested, claiming instead that they had been brought in for “screening.”

Human rights abuses against civil society activists and perceived opponents of President Mugabe’s ZANU PF party stubbornly persist in Zimbabwe. Homosexuality is illegal, with President Mugabe once remarking that gays are “worse than dogs and pigs.” Zimbabwe is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s global survey of political rights and civil liberties.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2011: Zimbabwe

Freedom of the Press 2011: Zimbabwe

Freedom on the Net 2011: Zimbabwe

Blog: In Zimbabwe, Democracy Must Be Driven from Below