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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Sexual orientation and Zimbabwe's new constitution
    Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
    April 22, 2009

    The drafting 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 fact sheet

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