Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has reversed his position on gay rights. He now says that he wants LGBT equality enshrined in a new constitution, according to a report following a Video interview report on BBC.
Zimbabwe, shares a border with South Africa which has a fully inclusive constitution, protecting sexual orientation as a critical element in its post apartheid constitution. Perhaps now this reversal from a country that has always seemed overtly anti-gay, one can hope is now that perhaps the LGBTI right to orientation could find a foothold from South to North, on a continent that has seemed headed toward institutionalized homophobia exacerbated by criminalization of homosexuality.
Tsvangirai told the BBC that gay rights were a “human right” that conservative Zimbabweans should respect, in an odd turn around after last year, Mr Tsvangirai joined President Robert Mugabe in opposing homosexuality in very strong terms.
The fractious coalition formed by the two leaders has promised political reforms ahead of next year’s elections. Zimbabwe is in the process of drafting a new constitution, which will be put to a referendum ahead of the elections.
Homosexual acts are currently illegal in Zimbabwe, as in most African countries where many people view homosexuality as ‘un-Christian’ and ‘un-African.’
One can only wonder if the turn around has any relationship to the recent statements by U.S. Secretary Clinton, the memo on LGBT foreign policy by President Obama, the call for reduction in AID to homophobic countries by the UK and the latest report on homosexuality by the UNHRC, all of which has been fully reported on in this BLOG.
Zimbabwe’s current President Rober Mugabe has referred to homosexuals as ‘Pigs and dogs.’
Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC’s Newsnight program that there was a “very strong cultural feeling” against homosexuality in Zimbabwe, but that he would defend gay rights if he became president. Now perhaps there is a clear motive in this about turn and that could be to hope for international support to defeat the dictator, Robert Mugabe.
“It’s a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody,” he told Newsnight’s Gavin Esler.
“To me, it’s a human right,” he said.
But he will face strong resistance from Mr Mugabe, who will exploit Mr Tsvangirai’s U-turn to drum up support for himself in the run-up to the election, correspondents say. It will be Zimbabwe’s first general election since Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party formed a unity government with President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF after polls in 2008. Those elections were marred by widespread violence and rigging, with Mr Tsvangirai boycotting a run-off vote.
The two parties are yet to agree on political and security reforms to guarantee a free and fair poll.