Tuesday, 25 October 2011

LGBT Rights to be Embedded in Zimbabwe Constitution?

Could Zimbabwe really be the second African country to build LGBT protection into it's constitution? Zimbabwe, where the tyrant Robert Mugabe has earned the enmity of Peter Tatchell for his vehement  hostility to gay men and lesbians?

At first sight, it seems unlikely, but it may well be realistic. Since the last stolen and hotly disputed election, Zimbabwe has been governed by an uneasy national unity government, with Mugabe as executive president, and Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, while the politicians, assisted by neighbouring South Africa, are involved in protracted negotiations over a new constitution.  Mugabe is known to be ailing, and fresh elections under a new constitution must be held within a year or two. Mugabe cannot continue in office too much longer: whether from human mortality or democratic process, he is clearly in the departure lounge. It is too soon to predict with confidence who will replace him as the next head honcho, but it could well be Tsvangirai. 

Twenty years ago, South Africans were engaged in similar negotiations between political foes over a new, democratic election. The document that emerged was the first in the world to build LGBT protections into a bill of rights. In Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai has now reversed his own long-standing antipathy to homosexuals, and stated that he supports the principle of equality, and freedom from discrimination, for all.

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has reversed his position on gay rights, saying he now wants them enshrined in a new constitution.
He told the BBC that gay rights were a "human right" that conservative Zimbabweans should respect.
Last year, Mr Tsvangirai joined President Robert Mugabe in opposing homosexuality.
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."
-full report, and video interview, at BBC News
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