Despite his party’s best attempts to explain away his remarks as his personal views and kill the debate, Tsvangirai thrust the matter back into the top of the news agenda at a rally in Pashu, Binga, on Friday. "I am not gay," Tsvangirai said. "I’m not going to prosecute anyone who is gay. I will protect their rights. I will not persecute them."
[Mugabe's party] ZANU PF has gone on overdrive, attacking the Prime Minister for his remarks during an interview with the BBC over the rights of gays. "It is shocking that [ruling party] ZANU PF want to pursue issues which are not useful which do not bring bread and butter to the table," said Tsvangirai.
The premier who has been holding rallies countrywide ahead of the general elections which are likely to be held next year, castigated ZANU PF big wigs whom he said were busy looting national resources at the expense of millions of impoverished Zimbabweans. "Almost three quarters of the country is poor because ZANU PF is looting the diamonds," said Tsvangirai.
Mugabe "wants elections as early as March" to end its "forced marriage" with rival Tsvangirai's MDC party, reports Al Jazeera English. Mugabe entered into a coalition government with Tsvangirai in 2008.
Tsvangirai's remarks come the same week as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia. British, Canadian and Australian leaders asked African, Asian and Caribbean nations to decriminalize same-sex relations in an effort to fight soaring HIV rates.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in Zimbabwe, as they are in most African countries. Two LGBT activists were arrested and tortured last year. Both were acquitted of all charges. Neighboring South Africa is the only nation on the continent that guarantees gay rights and marriage equality.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting opened this morning in Perth, Western Australia. The biennial meeting brings together leaders of the Commonwealth of Nations, mostly former members of the British Empire.
British PM David Cameron and Australian PM Julia Gillard (above), as well as Canadian PM Stephen Harper, are expected to ask member nations to repeal anti-gay laws in an effort to address soaring HIV rates in the global south, reports The Globe and Mail and AFP.
The body tasked with developing options to reform the Commonwealth has noted that the old British Empire laws against gays are still in force in 41 of the 54 member nations. These include statues, mostly enacted in colonial times, which criminalise homosexual sex.
About 2.7 million new people become infected with HIV every year, with the virus claiming a further two million lives annually from Aids. Commonwealth countries are disproportionately burdened with the disease, accounting for some 30% of the global population, but 60% of the world's HIV/Aids cases.
The move comes after reports that the British Foreign Ministry is considering decreasing aid to nations that have been prosecuting gays, reports South Africa's Daily Mail.
Prime Minister David Cameron ... will tell struggling nations they will receive funding “fines” if persecution of homosexuals continues. The government has already cut aid to Malawi by £19 million [$31 million] after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years hard labour. The southern African nation also plans to bring in tough anti-lesbian laws.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell could also reduce aid to Uganda and Ghana unless they drop laws against homosexuality. Uganda, which is due to receive £70 million [$113 million] in 2011, plans to punish homosexuality with the death penalty. The president of Ghana, which gets £36 million [$58 million] a year, has promised to bring in measures to “check the menace of homosexuality and lesbianism”.
Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has rejected calls by Mr Tsvangirai to enshrine gay rights in a new constitution. Mr Chinamasa told the BBC that gay rights could not be "smuggled" into the constitution because most Zimbabweans opposed it.
Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Chinamasa are from rival parties in a fractious coalition. Their parties - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Zanu-PF respectively - are drafting a new constitution, which will be put to a referendum ahead of elections next year.
Mr Chinamasa said Zimbabweans had firmly rejected gay rights when they were consulted on a new constitution during the government's outreach programme. "We all know what people said about gay rights - it's a total no; an almost 100% no," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
Even members of Tsvangirai's MDC Party have disavowed the comments, reports New Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai's MDC-T party refused to back him, and his spokesman appeared to beat a retreat, suggesting that the Prime Minister's position expressed in an interview with the BBC had been "misrepresented." But in the fall-out, Tsvangirai received backing from the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) which said in a statement it wanted him to "take positive action to support his most recent statement on the indivisibility of human rights."
Tsvangirai's reversal comes only days before the annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia. British, Canadian and Australian leaders are expected to ask African and Asian nations to decriminalize same-sex relations in an effort to fight rampant HIV rates across the global south.
Surprising news from Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has reversed his position on gay rights, now saying they are "human rights" and should be enshrined in the country's new constitution, reports the BBC.
Mr Tsvangirai told BBC's Newsnight programme that there was a "very strong cultural feeling" against homosexuality in Zimbabwe, but he would defend gay rights if he became president.
"It's a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody," he told Newsnight's Gavin Esler. "To me, it's a human right," he said.
Mr Tsvangirai's U-turn suggests that he now wants Zimbabwe to adopt a liberal policy, similar to that of neighbouring South Africa. But he will face strong resistance from Mr Mugabe, who will exploit Mr Tsvangirai's U-turn to drum up support for himself in the run-up to the election, correspondents say.
Tsvangirai's reversal comes only days before the annual Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia. British, Canadian and Australian leaders are expected to ask African nations to decriminalize same-sex relations in an effort to fight rampant HIV rates across the global south.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates now says that Congress should end "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" or the federal courts will force it to happen. Speaking yesterday in Melbourne, Australia, Gates told ABC’s Cynthia McFadden in that he believed the policy's demise was "inevitable."
"The question is whether it is done by legislation that allows us to do it in a thoughtful and careful way, or whether it is struck down by the courts. Because recent court decisions are certainly pointing in that direction. And we went through a period of two weeks in October where we had four different policy changes in the space of, as I say, two weeks, from striking it down totally, to a stay, to appeal, and so on. So I I think we have the least flexibility. We have the least opportunity to do this intelligently and carefully and with the kind of preparation that is necessary, if the courts take this action as opposed to there being legislation...
"My hope frankly is that if they -- if we can make the case that having this struck down by the courts is the worst outcome, because it gives us no flexibility, that people will think I'm called a realist, a pragmatist, I'm looking at this realistically. This thing is gonna go one way or the other. And I wanted and I -- when I testified last February I said, you know, there's smart ways to do things and there's stupid ways to do things. And trying to do this all at once and under some kind of fiat, I think is not the way to do it."
Secretary of State Clinton added: "It's kind of a generational issue, and this issue, like so many issues, you know young people have different life experiences. But there does have to be a thoughtful process, which is what Bob's running right now, a process to really survey this and examine and analyze it, and come to what is the best decision for our military and what they're expected to do out in very dangerous and difficult situations."
In other DADT-related news: White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told National Journal that repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military is "at least worth a shot" in the lame-duck session of Congress that begins next week. "At least worth a shot"?
A massive 7.1 earthquake rocked New Zealand's South Island, causing widespread damage to buildings and roads, knocking out power, and ripping facades off buildings in Christchurch, the country's second-largest city. Despite the quake's severity, only several serious injuries are reported. Hospitals are mostly "treating a number of people with broken bones, and others with minor injuries such as cuts and bruises," reports Radio New Zealand.
The quake was initially reported at 7.4 magnitude but later downgraded. "It was centred 30km west of [Christchurch] and 33km underground," reports Stuff.co.nz "It hit at 4.35am and has been followed by a series of strong aftershocks. It was felt widely across the South Island and as far north as Wellington. "
Christchurch has a population of about 386,000, but no casualties have yet been reported. The quake has disrupted mobile telephone service across the South Island. Rail service has been suspended pending inspections. Christchurch Airport has also been closed as a precaution.
Openly gay rapper/spoken word artist Kevin "Kaoz" Moore talks coming out professionally: "With spoken word and hip-hop, I never put my sexuality into the equation,
but then I realized that the LGBT community was the ones that supported
me. I was no longer going to hide."
The Root launches its series exploring Cuba's color complex. Cuban-American lesbian journalist Achy Obejas writes "Yes, Virginia, There is Racism in Cuba" and notes: "The government's good intentions—combined with a willful silence on
internal conflicts, national pride, a desire to protect a revolution
that seemed constantly under siege, and the goodwill, especially from
Africans and African Americans, that was inspired by the idea of
eliminating racism in Cuba—[makes] it almost impossible to have an open
and honest discussion."
The President sat down with CNN's Larry King to discuss the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP's response and to answer criticism that the government has been too reliant on BP for solutions. Obama also discussed the hurricane season's potential impact on the spill.