Gay rights out of Zimbabwe Constitution

The final draft constitution, earmarked to replace the Lancaster House Constitution, will criminalise homosexuality and ban same-sex marriages according to the views of the majority of Zimbabweans, it has emerged. In an interview, Constitution Select Committee (Copac) co-chair Mr Edward Mkhosi (MDC) said Zimbabwe had unequivocally affirmed that homosexuality should be outlawed.

“During the outreach programme, everyone said ‘no’ to gays and lesbians and, as the drafters, we heed what people say,” he said. “Contrary to media reports that the homosexuality issue was causing infighting, the people were clear; we did not waste time on it.”

Mr Mkhosi said the non-inclusion of so-called gay rights was always expected as Zimbabwe is a nation founded on Christianity and tradition.

“The new constitution will be built upon our past and traditions. Homosexuality is a foreign concept. Our culture, our tradition and our increasingly Christian outlook do not permit us to legalise homosexuality and same-sex marriages. That is the reason why homosexuality is illegal and will remain illegal.”

Co-chair Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu-PF) said pro-gay movements were left with egg on their faces after the public spoke against homosexuality. “We removed anything to do with homosexuals. We were all agreed that Zimbabwe is not a country that makes friends with gays,” he said. “The people clearly, without any doubt, said ‘no’ to homosexuals. If gays and their supporters harbour hopes that homosexuality might be legalised in Zimbabwe, they should forget it. Homosexuality has been shut out of the constitution and there is no going back on that.”

Copac co-chair Mr Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) would not be drawn into discussing the matter.

“We are not allowed to discuss anything in the draft constitution, but I can tell you that anything that will be in the new constitution will be derived from the outreach programme,” he said.

The decision to exclude homosexuality has been seen as a triumph over attempts by MDC-T and pro-gay non-governmental organisation Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) to smuggle a clause into the draft constitution that legalises homosexuality on the basis of a technicality.

Debate on whether or not Zimbabwe should recognise homosexuality has been highly contentious with its proponents, among them Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, advocating the inclusion of gay rights in the new constitution.

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