Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's notoriously anti-gay President Robert Mugabe slammed the "filthy gays" of Europe and the European Union for imposing an asset freeze and travel ban on him and his inner circle. Mugabe has managed to circumvent the ban and arrived yesterday in the Vatican for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II, reports the BBC.
An EU travel ban forbids him from visiting member states but the Vatican, where the ceremony will take place, is a sovereign state and not in the EU. Mr Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, has been allowed to transit through Italy.
Italy's foreign ministry said it had requested an exemption from the EU travel ban for Mr Mugabe. A Vatican spokesman said Mr Mugabe had not been personally invited but as the head of a state with which the Vatican has relations he was entitled to attend.
Reports the AFP:
Mugabe, a Catholic who has been widely condemned for human rights abuses, also attended John Paul II's funeral in 2005 despite the 2002 travel ban—a visit that drew controversy because Britain's Prince Charles shook hands with him. Twenty-two world leaders are expected to attend the ceremony that will put John Paul II on the path to sainthood, the Vatican said. Five royal families—Belgium, Britain, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Spain—will be represented
Zimbabwe's despotic government is rabidly anti-gay. Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have rejected calls to include gay rights in the new constitution. Mugabe once infamously described gays as "worse than dogs and pigs" and recently apologized to dogs and pigs for the comparison.
Mugabe Denounces "Filthy Gays" of Europe
UN Votes to Condemn Anti-Gay Violence
Zimbabwe: Gay Activist Trial Delayed
Zimbabwe: Gay Activist Acquitted
Mugabe Apologizes to Dogs for Gay Comparison
Zimbabwe Vows to Outlaw Homosexuality in Constitution