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Gay rights activists arrestd

BULAWAYO: Following the conviction of the Malawi gay couple, the Zimbabwean Republic Police raided offices of the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) in Harare. The police raided the offices on May 21 arresting three senior staff members and gay rights activists. Sources say that the police claimed that they had received information alleging that there were drugs at GALZ, a centre where gays and lesbians meet. Sources, who are also GALZ members said the police confiscated two laptops. They said the police allege to have found a pornographic compact diskette in GALZ offices during the raid. However, the arrested gay rights activists deny the charges.

The arrest has raised alarm, mayhem and despondency to GALZ members nationwide. One GALZ member based in Bulawayo said members are currently afraid.

"There is fear. The police may arrest us anytime. Last week, I received an anonymous call advising me to cancel my birthday party. The anonymous callers said the police would arrest us because we will be holding a gay party ", said the source who asked for protection of his identity. Currently, GALZ Bulawayo offices have closed until sanity returns and until safety is guaranteed.

STATEMENT FROM THE SEXUAL RIGHTS CENTRE

"The Sexual Rights Centre is deeply concern about the arrest of GALZ members on May 21, 2010. We strongly condemn the intimidation of GALZ members and staff. We therefore demand the immediate release of GALZ staff and for the police to stop intimidating people on the basis of their sexual orientation. The Sexual Rights Centre builds a sexual rights culture in Zimbabwe through challenging behaviour and attitudes in society, capacity building and empowering vulnerable and marginalised communities to advocate for their legal, social and cultural rights".

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For more information about the Sexual Rights Centre visit www.sexualrightscentre.com

Comments

Carri Pence's picture

Thanks so much for posting

Thanks so much for posting this. It is sad that the treatment of homosexuals is deeply repressive across the international board. But I have a strong and positive feeling that this will change through the help of people like you. Thanks once again!

songsmith's picture

no

Have you tried this gray new york system? It's a bit underrated + must be well recognized.

jadefrank's picture

Infringement of rights

Dearest Gertrude,

It's wonderful to hear your voice on PulseWire and know that you are safe. I was outraged to hear of the recent arrests in Zimbabwe and I deeply appreciate your voice on the issue, as well as the statement by the Sexual Rights Centre. This infringement on people's rights has to stop - especially when it's based in hate and fear directed towards one group of people. This has to stop.

Please continue to speak out on LGBT issues and keep us updated on the situation in Zimbabwe, as well as the work that the Sexual Rights Centre is doing to advocate for the rights of Zimbabwe citizens.

Peace,
Jade

26 MAY 2010

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) strongly condemns the continued detention of its employees, Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Mhambi who were taken into custody on Friday 21 May 2010; their continued detention amounts to a gross violation of their human rights as enshrined in the constitution.

We believe the pair are being victimised as a direct result of GALZ making a submission to the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC), despite the call for submissions for this process. We ask the question, is government asking for participation so as to clamp down on individuals and organisations that contribute to the process?

We also condemn and deplore the continued abuse of power by law enforcement agents in using POSA and AIPPA to victimise, harass and raid the homes of human rights defenders.

GALZ calls upon:
• Law enforcement agents to release Ellen and Ignatius from custody or that they appear before a court of law as their prolonged detention is a violation of their constitutional rights.
• Law enforcement agents to uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights by ensuring that Ellen and Ignatius have access to justice.

ENDS//

jadefrank's picture

upholding the law

Dearest Gertrude,

Thank you for your updates and continued reporting on this issue. I stand behind GALZ and Sexual Rights Centre in condemning the hateful and un-constitutional acts by the government in arresting Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Mhambi. When law enforcement, who are there to maintain and uphold the law, are clearly in violation of basic rights and the constitution - how can anyone be safe? What is it going to take?

Hugs,
Jade

Gay rights pair finally released on bail
By Violet Gonda
27 May 2010
The two members of the gay rights group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, who were arrested last week after a raid on their offices, were finally released on $200 bail each on Thursday by a magistrate’s court.

Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi, who are facing charges of ‘insulting the office of the President’ and for allegedly possessing ‘pornographic material’ are expected back in court for their remand hearing on June 10th. Lawyer David Hofisi said they also filed an urgent High Court application to see if the long period they stayed in custody was lawful, and the State now has 10 working days to file opposing papers.

Hofisi told SW Radio Africa that Chademana and Muhambi accuse the police of using torture and beatings to try and extract information about their organisation’s membership.

The lawyer said: “We are working with our clients so that they can be medically examined so that we can pursue an action against the people who were responsible for the beatings and torture.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Zimbabwe but the ‘act’ of sodomy is criminalised. Human rights lawyers say there is also no constitutional guarantee to protect gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe.

The police, who claim were working on a tip off, say they confiscated images and a booklet that amount to articles that are indecent or obscene in terms of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act. But the defence lawyer said the police have failed to provide a ‘comprehensive list of all the materials that they claim to have confiscated from the GALZ offices’.

In opposing bail on Thursday the State unsuccessfully told the court that the GALZ officials were in possession of articles which are against the natural order of things and that the articles were ‘abhorrent to our society’ and therefore it would not be ideal for the two to be granted bail.

Hofisi said: “It was in response to this that the magistrate was very extensive in his judgement, because he went as far as to point out how the South African jurisdiction is more liberal, whereas the Malawian jurisdiction is more conservative and harsh. The magistrate said the court itself would not be sucked into an argument based on morality but will only stick to the legal issues in question.”

Callback

There are disturbing reports this week of the arrests, harassment and torture of members and employees of GALZ, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe. Romeo Tshuma in California is a former Programme Officer with the group. He gives his thoughts on the current situation and says how, like so many others, he feels badly let down by the MDC. And, General says the case against Roy Bennett by the government ‘was illegal,’ and they must now do what is right and swear him in as Deputy Agriculture Minister.

SW Radio Africa News

Source: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/may28_2010.html#Z3

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