Arrest of Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Zimbabwe Activists

Arrest of Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Zimbabwe Activists

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Photo: GALZ

According to the Zimbabwe civil rights group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), 44 of its members were arrested at their office soon after the launch of the GALZ Violations Report and Briefing of the second draft Zimbabwe Constitution. 31 men and 13 women members were detained at Harare Central Police Station on August 11, 2012.

Four police officers attempted to gain entry into the premises before calling for backup where approximately 15 riot squad members descended on the office and effected arrest. Police assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for human rights were denied access to see all members detained.

GALZ reported on August 24:

Detectives at the Law and Order Section at the Harare Central Police Station on Thursday 23 August 2012 charged GALZ that was represented by Martha Tholanah, the organisation’s co-chairperson with running an “unregistered” organisation in contravention of Section 6 (iii) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act. Although the police indicated that they had not found anything pornorgraphic or insulting the Zimbabwean president in the documents, pamphlets and computers, as had been specified in the search warrant, they advised that they would not release the property until the case was over.

U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, “The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe’s violent arrest and detention of 44 members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe on August 11 and a second raid by police on August 20.  Several of these members sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and were detained without charges.  The Government of Zimbabwe has also targeted these same members’ homes and singled out their families for interrogation and harassment.”

Nuland added, “The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society, including LGBT activists.  We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights.  We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to end this pattern of abuse and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the Zimbabwean people.”

Read more about sodomy laws in Zimbabwe here.

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