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The statements created a climate of intolerance, fear, coercion, intimidation and acts of vengeance directed at gays and lesbians

24 July 2013

The Chairperson Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
Justice Rita Makarau Mahachi
Quantum Building 1
Nelson Mandela Avenue

Dear Ms. Makarau

Ref: Complaint on “Hate Speech” targeting the Zimbabwe gay community

We write to register our complaint to you regarding the continued use of hate speech by the ZANU PF party president and President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, in this election campaigning period.

The party president has made statements that encourage violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Zimbabwe. In a number of instances listed below, the President made statements that are an indication of state sponsored homophobia of alarming levels. We cite below venues at which hate speech was directed at the gay community in Zimbabwe.

14 June 2013
6 July 2013
12 July 2013
11 July 2013
14 June 2013
15 July 2013
16 July 2013
18 July 2013
23 July 2013
Bondolfi Teachers College
Zimbabwe Grounds- Highfields Chikomba Nzvimbo Marondera
Chitungwiza Chinhoyi Mutare

Statements by President Robert Mugabe castigating gays and lesbians at the rallies cited above do not create conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections for the LGBTI community. These statements have created a climate of intolerance, fear, coercion, intimidation and acts of vengeance directed at gays and lesbians. They are also a violation of section 5, a, b, c and 6b of the Electoral Code of Conduct. The prevailing situation has resulted in incidents such as the attack on the GALZ on the 6 June 2013 by five unidentified men wielding hammers. The men violently forced entry into the GALZ offices in Harare disrupting a meeting in progress under the guise of preserving Zimbabwean culture as called for by the President.

GALZ notes with concern that ZANU PF’s instruments of intimidation and electioneering which include the subject of gays remains as strong as ever and is once again being used during its campaign rallies in the run up to this election.
It has become customary for the President to attempt to whip up a climate of hysterical homophobia against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people before, during and after elections. The President has been quoted in the media as even calling for the beheading of gays. Such outbursts have done much to highlight the difficulties facing LGBT people throughout Zimbabwe before, during and after elections.

Levels of violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have always revolved around suspected homophobes using government propaganda as a threat in order to harass and intimidate members of the gay community. LGBTI members are likely to be excluded from electoral processes on account of the prevailing climate that has been created by the hate speech that the President is fanning at most of his campaign rallies.

GALZ would like to call on you to investigate these statements that have created a situation where violent acts and aggravated harassment of individuals suspected of being gay or lesbian are heightened in Zimbabwe. Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or intersex (LGBTI) are driven from their homes through violence or threats of violence, forcing many to abandon their possessions and become internally displaced or even seek refuge abroad on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

GALZ would like to state that statements by the President are a contradiction of article VII of the Global Political agreement in which the President pledges to promote equality, national healing, cohesion and unity. The President should strive to create an environment of tolerance and respect among Zimbabweans and that all citizens are treated with dignity and decency. GALZ is neither a political party nor an interested party in these elections to warrant such unprecedented attacks from the President. Our participation is through our members who are mere voters.

We also note that the hate speech violates SADC guidelines on elections particularly sections that deal with;

Full participation of the citizens in the political process Freedom of association Political tolerance;
The statements are in violation of the Zimbabwe constitution that amongst other issues calls on the State to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Zimbabwe constitution. The Hate speech fully violates or in part, provisions in sections 48, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 60 and 61 of the Zimbabwe Constitution.

As also outlined in the SADC guidelines on elections, we call on you to safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression, of everyone including the LGBTI community.

GALZ (also known as the (“Gays and lesbians of Zimbabwe”) [GALZ] is a universitas, voluntary membership based organization established in 1990 to serve the needs of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Zimbabwe. GALZ's Mission as a membership-based association is to promote, represent and protect the rights and interests of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people through: Advocacy, Lobbying, Empowerment. Education, Research and; Provision of safe spaces in order to influence positive attitudes of the broader society.
We look forward to you response.

Yours Sincerely

Chesterfield Samba
GALZ Director