HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe on Sunday pledged to strengthen penalties against gays and lesbians if his Zanu PF party wins the upcoming elections.
In a speech at the Roman Catholic Church-operated Bondolfi Teachers College, Mugabe said current laws against homosexuality were “too lenient,” and said, “After the polls, we will strengthen the law and make it really punitive and bitterly punishable for such people.”
“At the moment, they get something like three months’ imprisonment. They should rot in jail [...] We want a nation guided by strong values, we cannot give up our values for money,” he said.
Mugabe vowed that gay marriage would never be accepted in Zimbabwe and seemed to conflate LGBT people with rape.
“We do not have a culture of men marrying men or women marrying women. We cannot accept it, no, no, no. These things are taboo in our society.” said Mugabe.
The proposed draft constitution of Zimbabwe, which Mugabe says will be ratified if he wins, reads: “Persons of the same-sex are prohibited from marrying each other.”
Mugabe also praised the Catholic Church for “resisting” gay issues, while criticizing the Anglican Church for accepting gays.
Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, and in 2006 the country’s government amended the law which now states that sodomy is any “act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act,” thereby criminalizing holding hands, hugging, or kissing.
During Zimbabwe’s annual independence celebrations in 1995, Mugabe proclaimed that homosexuality “degrades human dignity,” is “unnatural” and “worse than dogs and pigs.”
Since then, Mugabe has increased the political repression of Zimbabwe’s LGBT community.