Encouraging developments from Southern Africa. A group of young men "wielding hammers" reportedly forced entry into the offices of Zimbabwe's sole LGBT rights group ... but police "swiftly" arrested the assailants, report Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe.
At around 11A Thursday [June 6] five unknown men wielding hammers violently forced entry into the GALZ offices disrupting a meeting in progress. The men rounded up all staff and board members and locked them up in the Guard Room whilst they ransacked the offices collecting all personal property including cellphones, laptops and bags...
We commend the Police’s swift reaction that arrived at the scene and promptly arrested the men. The men have [been] taken [to] Harare Central Police Station. One of our board members [assisted] the police. All members were unharmed. [O]ne cellphone and some cash belonging to a board member is allegedly missing.
The police intervention at GALZ is a far cry from recent events involving Zimbabwe's only LGBT rights group. Two activists were arrested in a May 2010 raid on GALZ's offices. The activist were reportedly tortured while in jail. Both were acquitted of charges of possessing "pornography."
This week's news comes after a series of harsh, anti-gay remarks from Zimbabwe's notoriously notoriously anti-gay President Robert Mugabe and the leadership of the ruling political party ZANU-PF. Zimbabwe's justice minister has vowed not to recognize basic rights for gays and promised to "arrest same sex partners found committing homosexual acts." A senior government official called for the forced evictions of gays and lesbians in May 2012.
Gay men, lesbians and transgender nen and women face widespread harassment, violence and rape in Zimbabwe, the U.S. State Department reported in its annual human rights survey. 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.
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