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Chief Charumbira says sexual minorities have no place in new constitution


Press Release
Traditional leaders undermine the democratic process:
Chief Charumbira says sexual minorities have no place in new constitution

BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE: The Sexual Rights Centre noted with concern statements on homosexuality that appeared in the Sunday News of 7-13 February, 2010 from the President of the Chiefs’ Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira.

In the article entitled, Chiefs say gays have no place in new constitution of Zimbabwe, Chief Charumbira is quoted as saying that homosexuality is “a social wrong that progressive minds should resist” and that it is “alien to Zimbabwe and is a taboo”. Chief Charumbira is also quoted as saying that “even the platform to discuss such issues should not be accorded”.

The Sunday News continued to quote Chief Charumbira saying that Uganda has passed a law that says homosexuals should be killed and that traditional leaders in the country will soon advocate for that if some sectors of the population continue to call for the recognition of the rights of homosexuals in the new constitution.

Chief Charumbira’s statements are discriminatory and inaccurate. Chief Charumbira’s statements reveal a clear lack of understanding and appreciation of human rights and sexual rights in particular. These rights include the right to life, liberty and security, the right to freedom of expression and access to information, the right to equal protection and non-discrimination, the right to family and the right to health. The Chief’s statements are inflammatory and disregard the democratic process of a people-driven Constitution.

The Sexual Rights Centre strongly feels that the Sunday News has demonstrated irresponsible journalism by not printing a reasoned and balanced articles about this issue.

As an organisation we work with sexual minorities to reduce stigma and discrimination, increase understanding and awareness, emphasize best and ethical practice in programmes working with Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Inter-sex (LGBTI) persons. We frame the LGBTI issues within the context of human rights and we encourage the nation to uphold the rights of every individual and to respect them.

The Sexual Rights Centre encourages journalists and editors to present both sides of the debate and not allow one-dimensional and ill-informed opinions to dominate the media.

It is essential that traditional leaders, government officials and those involved in the constitution making process should respect the views of all groups and should ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.


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Fadzie's picture

We have a long way to go indeed

this goes to show that Zimbabwe has a long way to go if we really want to be in the lead towards respecting people's rights

such a subject is indeed controversial in my African context, but then it's how people respond to such issues that matters---- Malawi is in the process of trying to resolve this issue especially taking into account of the past few weeks surrounding the way it addressed the rights of the married gay couple who are still behind bars!!!!!

Only time will tell when the custodians of people's culture,the traditional leaders, will embrace diversity in their own communities and be able to live with it!

cad_communication's picture

Narrow minded

It is a shame that the Malawi Government has put the gay couple behind bars. It shows how people have become narrow minded. Yesterday, two men from Zimbabwe, Bulawayo were arrested on charges of sodomy. (I will gather enough fact and post a report on this story)
I think the major problem with most African countries/leaders/people is that they treat human rights as cultural rights. For instance, we are currently having challenges in the formulation of the new constitution in Zimbabwe because people are taking it as a cultural document. Considering that culture is diverse and that it constantly changes, i do not know where this will lead us. Perhaps that is why our current constitution has 19 amendments.
I strongly feel that LGBTI persons should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and that the law should call for the protection of every individual.


Gis's picture

Is this another pandemic in Africa

It seems to me not many African countries are free of the bias that allows people of any sexual orientation to live freely and safely within their own practices. Even if its not against the law and South Africa, which legalised homosexuality in 1994, seems to be one of the most liberal countries on the continent, the reality on the ground speaks to more of what is happening in Zimbabwe and Uganda. For many, homosexuality is still very much not only taboo, but entirely not tolerated. The spate of 'corrective rapes' that ensue and the treatment of gay people in reality in South Africa speaks to a lack of social acceptances and to a greater level of intolerance. It is therefore no wonder, that populist based governments won't take on the plight of minorities if the majority are wholly against it. Unfortunately, this is the nature of a democracy which works across belief systems as opposed to one that works to fulfil the rights of human beings - all things being equal. In my view, looking back over time and the history of LGBT rights in the Western world, it was a slow burn to where we are today and I still can’t believe they repealed the right to marriage in California. Up until 30 years ago, Homosexuality was described as a mental illness in most parts of Europe. In 1989 Western Australia decriminalised male homosexuality. Understanding the context of tolerance and what leads to building tolerance is a strong weapon in this debate. Unfortunately, where societies still view homosexuality as a perversion or sickness that needs eradication, as opposed to a basic human right of expression, the battle to convince them otherwise remains. I would only wish that this debate did not have the human toll that it has today. Women being raped and gay couples being murdered. Thanks to all who work hard to alter perceptions.

Thank you so much for your response. You raise very important isues and i think its important that people view this as a human rights issue so that they are able to accommodate sexual minorities.

Thank you so much for your contribution.


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