Violence by Police as they dragged LGBTI people out of organizations offices.
By Melanie Nathan, August 13, 2012.
Forty four Gays and Lesbians from Zimbabwe, all GALZ members, were arrested yesterday at the GALZ office soon after the launch of the “GALZ Violations Report and Briefing of the second draft Zimbabwe Constitution.” Thirty one men and thirteen women members were detained at Harare Central Police Station on 11 August 2012.
According to GALZ, four police officers attempted to gain entry into the premises before calling for back up where about fifteen riot squad members descended on the office and effected arrest.
Police assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge. Zimbabwe Lawyers for human rights were denied access to see all members detained.
GALZ leadership has informed us:- “All forty four members have now been released and are we are working with them to assess their condition and well being.”
The Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) is a universitas voluntary association. It was founded in 1990 for purposes of serving the needs and interests of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe and pushing for social tolerance of sexual minorities and the repeal of homophobic legislation.
GALZ was one of the first organisations in Zimbabwe to start HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and, today, it remains unique in that it is the only organisation in the country specifically working with people who engage in same-sex sexual activity.
Originally a small social club of mostly middle-class professionals, the association has grown over the years and now truly represents the broader LGBTI community in ten centres throughout Zimbabwe.
GALZ rose to prominence in the mid 1990s when it challenged illegal bans by government on its participation at the annual Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF). Since then, the association has been involved in a number of high-profile campaigns.
Despite the numerous challenges facing Zimbabwean LGBTI people, which include all those facing Zimbabweans as a whole, GALZ has made great strides in pushing for the tolerance and appreciation of sexual differences in society. Today, the GALZ Resource Centre in Harare provides professional counselling, entertainment and educational activities for members. GALZ is also actively involved in broader human rights campaigning and in the fight for access to affordable treatment for all people living with HIV or AIDS.