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Same-Sex Handholding Now Illegal In Zimbabwe
by Newscenter Staff

July 17, 2006 - 9:00 pm ET

(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 bodyguards. 

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.

© 2006

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