(Harare) Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe's
government has made it a criminal offense for two people of the same sex to hold
hands, hug, or kiss.
The "sexual deviancy" law is one of 15
additions to Zimbabwe's criminal code quietly passed in Parliament last week.
The sections involving gays and lesbians are part
of an overhaul of the sodomy laws. Until now laws against sodomy were
limited to sexual activity.
The revised law now states that sodomy is any
"act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a
reasonable person as an indecent act".
Mugabe has a long history of homophobia. He
regularly refers to gays and people he suspects to be gay as "less than
pigs and dogs".
Earlier this year the 82 year old went on a
tirade calling homosexuality "a white disease".
"Leave whites to do that," he declared.
Mugabe told the cheering throng that same-sex
marriage is a threat to mankind and condemned churches that bless gay unions.
He said his government would jail and clergy who
performed a blessing ceremony for gay couples in Zimbabwe.
British LGBT civil rights campaigner Peter
Tatchell has on several occasions attempted citizenís arrests of Mugabe.
In 1999, he and other activists from the gay
activist group OutRage! ambushed Mugabeís motorcade and attempted to seize him
in a London street. In 2001, he swooped on the President as he was leaving the
Hilton Hotel in Brussels. Tachell was beaten unconscious by Mugabeís
In 2004 a British court refused to issue an
arrest warrant for the Zimbabwean leader.
Tatchell presented a 52 page brief that outlined
a regime of brutality, homophobia, and repression of civil rights. It detailed
accounts of political opponents being rounded up and imprisoned and quoted
extensively from reports made by more than a half dozen international human
rights groups and contains interviews with victims of the regime.
The judge ruled that Mugabe is immune from
foreign arrest since he is a head of state.
Zimbabwe is not the only African country where
gays are in danger.
Botswana, Kenya, Cameroon, and Mozambique punish
sodomy with imprisonment.
Nigerian law has a 14-year prison sentence for
homosexuals, but in Muslim northern Nigeria, where Islamic Sharia law is in
force, it is punishable by death.