Patrick Chinamasa said he told U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that Zimbabwe will arrest same sex partners found committing homosexual acts. "We made it clear that in our law homosexual activities are criminalized and that any person who commits homosexual activities will be arrested," he told reporters after meeting with Pillay in Harare.
He said claims of state sponsored torture were untrue, and the allegations must be investigated. "There is no state sponsored violence, these are all lies. We told her that there are no torture chambers in Zimbabwe," he said.
Pillay is on a first ever mission by a UN Human Rights chief to Zimbabwe, at the invitation of the Government. The South African judge will meet President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, cabinet ministers, the nation's chief justice and others.
Independent human rights groups have accused Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front of "stage managing" the visit and presenting a "fraudulent" account of human rights, according to another report by AP.
In a joint statement Monday, 36 groups said they will boycott a meeting with her arranged by Mugabe’s justice ministry at the Harare Parliament building scheduled Tuesday. The groups said bogus organizations, some even the perpetrators of injustice, were invited to “ambush” the rights defenders’ talks with Pillay. ...
Human rights groups have compiled dossiers from witness accounts of systematic political violence, assaults, beatings, rape and torture over the past decade. At least 600 people have died, about 200 of them in violence during campaigning for the last national elections in 2008.
The 36 groups said Monday that Chinamasa had insisted there was nothing to hide from the U.N. envoy, but that he and justice ministry officials then tried to suppress the activists’ views. Mugabe’s party wanted to stage manage her mission using loyalists to present “a glorified and sugar coated account” of rights issues, the statement said.
The news comes after a series of harsh, anti-gay remarks from ZANU-PF leadership. Last week a senior government official called for the forced evictions of gays and lesbians. President Barack Obama's historic announcement on marriage equality was described as "the worst form of Satanism" only days before by one legislator.
Zimbabwe's notoriously notoriously anti-gay leader Mugabe entered into a coalition government with opposition leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008. Elections are expected later this year. Tsvangirai has promised "not to prosecute anyone who is gay" if he wins the election. Tsvangirai says he will continue to call out for tolerance despite an onslaught of criticism after his remarks.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in Zimbabwe, as they are in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. The neighboring Republic of South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
Two Zimbabwean LGBT activists were arrested and tortured in May 2010. Both were acquitted of all charges. Gay men and transgender women face widespread harassment, violence and rape in Zimbabwe, the U.S. State Department reported in its annual human rights survey.
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