By Randy Gener:
During a recent election rally, Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, launched a verbal attack against U.S. President Barack Obama, and against African homosexuals in general.
At a July 23 rally at the Aerodome Grounds in Mutare, Mugabe described LGBT people as “worse than pigs, goats and birds.” The African president then argued that Obama is forcing Africa to “embrace homosexuality.”
“We have this American president, Obama, born of an African father, who is saying we will not give you aid if you don’t embrace homosexuality,” Mugabe was quoted in Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald. “We ask, was he born out of homosexuality? We need continuity in our race, and that comes from the woman, and no to homosexuality. John and John, no; Maria and Maria, no.”
At the rally, Mugabe, speaking in Shona one of 16 official languages in Zimbabwe, threatened to behead homosexuals.
“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads,” Mugabe was quoted in NewsDay, an independent Zimbabwean outlet. “This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. We will never do that.”
President Mugabe’s anti-LGBT comments are not new. The African leader has an extensive history of violent and homophobic statements. He has previously labelled gay people “worse than pigs and dogs” and threatened them with severe punishment. In the past, he has called tolerance for gay rights “unnatural” and “filth.”
Mugabe ran on a platform that assured “hell for gays” promising to introduce laws that would make LGBT individuals rot in jail for life, should his party win.
Mugabe also accused other African countries of becoming more tolerant of homosexuality because they have become reliant on European countries for aid and support.
The 89-year-old Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since 1980. This election is the country’s first presidential vote since a violence-ridden 2008 election that was met with international outcry. Mugabe was forced to accept a power-sharing arrangement with one of his rivals, though he has appeared to largely maintain power.
The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) have lodged complaints. In a letter sent to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on July 24, GALZ said its members are concerned by Mugabe’s “continued use of hate speech,” which they say violates their constitutional rights and freedoms.
“The Party president has made statements that encourage violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Zimbabwe,” the GALZ letter said. “In a number of instances, the President made statements that are an indication of state-sponsored homophobia of alarming levels.”