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This article participates on the following special index pages:
New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
orientation and Zimbabwe's new constitution
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
April 22, 2009
of a national Constitution must be a people-driven process. However,
although democracy is about the rule of the majority, the majority
does not have unlimited power. A democratic Constitution must incorporate
various fundamental rights in order for it to be democratic and
this includes the right to one's sexual orientation whether
this be homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.
The purpose of a Constitution is to protect vulnerable and marginalized
minorities. Most gay and lesbian people in Zimbabwe live in fear
and are driven underground. This is blatant discrimination against
a group of people whose only difference from the majority is in
who they are attracted to sexually. And homosexuals do not choose
to be homosexual just as heterosexuals do not choose to be heterosexual.
Choosing to be gay or lesbian in Zimbabwe would be lunacy given
the levels of disapproval shown by many elements of society.
Discrimination against gays and lesbians is also unhealthy for society.
An excellent illustration of why comes from the Zimbabwe National
AIDS Council Strategic Plan 2006 - 2010. In relation to gay
men, it points out that whilst sexual conduct between men "remains
illegal in Zimbabwe, there can be no doubt that there are men who
have sex with other men [MSM]. They are at risk of HIV infection
and passing on the virus to their partners, including female partners.
Furthermore, international experience has shown that ignoring this
group or adopting punitive approaches will only serve to drive MSM
underground and reduce opportunities to dialogue with this group."
On the other hand, whilst sexual conduct between women is not criminalised
in Zimbabwe, the mere fact that there is no specified protection
for lesbians under our present constitution makes them equally vulnerable
to discrimination as their male counterparts, perhaps even more
so given their status as women who are generally not recognised
as having the right to their own sexuality.
There is need, therefore, to include specific mention of sexual
orientation in Zimbabwe's next Constitution and the Gays and
Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) appeals to all Zimbabweans including
government and civic organisations to support this call.
Visit the GALZ
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