(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists)
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Zimbabwe; the law focuses on sexual relationships amongst men only. Section 73 of the Zimbabwean criminal code reads:
‘…any male person who, with the consent of another male person, knowingly performs with that other person anal sexual intercourse, or any act involving physical contact other than anal sexual intercourse that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act, shall be guilty of sodomy and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year of both.’
Zimbabwe has a level system; each level represents a certain monetary value for the fines that criminals must pay. ‘[R]egarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act’ leaves room for interpretation of what level those judged guilty would be fined.
Zimbabwe’s new constitution, signed into law by President Mugabe in May 2013, prohibits gay marriage. Article 78(3) states that ‘Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other’.
As noted by the organisation Lesbian and Gay Rights in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe has signed the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Universal Declaration), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Under Article 4 of the African Charter, citizens of Zimbabwe have the ‘right to respect for life and integrity of the person,’ which may be construed as a type of privacy right for gays and lesbians. Article 5 of the African Charter may also apply in cases of sexual orientation because it mandates respect for human dignity.
The Universal Declaration, Article 12, specifically prohibits ‘arbitrary interference with privacy’ and the ICCPR, Article 17 ensures the ‘right to privacy and the enjoyment of that right free from arbitrary interference.’ In 1996, Section 11 of the Zimbabwe Constitution was amended to limit the right to privacy where such a right may ‘prejudice the public interest.’ Article 17 of the ICCPR is violated when statutes are made to criminalise homosexual conduct.
Kimumwe v. Gonzales
This case was tried in the United States. William Kimumwe petitions for review of a decision of an Immigration Judge denying his application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention of Torture. The petition is denied for review.
PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT
The 2017 US Department of State Human Rights Report for Zimbabwe found that there were no know prosecutions of consenusal same-sex sexual activity during the year. It did however report that police were detaining individuals suspected of being gay for up to 48 hours before releasing them. Additionally, the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, does not seem to have departed from Robert Mugabe’s homophobic views and has rejected recommendations on LGBTI rights.
In the 2016 Human Rights Watch World Report it was stated that throughout 2015 ‘authorities continued to violate rights of LGBT people,’ and that there had been ‘hostility and systematic discrimination by police and politicians against’ the community.
The general attitude towards same sex relations is negative in Zimbabwe. Many consider homosexuality a foreign import that undermines the country’s Christian values. In August 2012, 44 members of the organisation Lesbian and Gay Rights in Zimbabwe were arrested.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)
We are not currently in contact with NGOs working on LGBTI issues in Zimbabwe, but welcome suggestions.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS
We have no specialist on LGBTI issues in Zimbabwe, but welcome suggestions.
Researched by: Karel Kingsley