HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Friday threatened to jail gays and lesbians for failing to conceive an offspring as he launched his party’s campaign for this month’s general election.
Mugabe, who heads the Zanu PF party, also slammed President Barack Obama for calling upon African nations to respect LGBT rights.
“I heard Obama said ‘l wish Africa would legalize marriages between men and women’ and I said I thought that since your father was black you would understand and know the African tradition, now you talk about the western way of life?” he told thousands of supporters in Harare’s Highfield township.
Mugabe was reportedly laughing as he launched into anti-gay slurs, saying, “I should like to shut them-up in some room and see if they get pregnant; if they don’t then its jail because they have claimed they can have children. So, to that kind of rot, we say no, no, no, no!”
“Women are also engaged in this vile activity,” he said, in mocking lesbians. “We have some claiming to be men but what is it that makes you a man? Show us your manhood. You want to make other women your wives and you the husband? Well, that is madness; we refuse to accept that.”
Mugabe also criticized the Anglican Church, which he alleged blessed gay marriage, despite the fact that it remains firmly opposed to idea.
And in an apparent reference to the late first President of Zimbabwe, Canaan Banana who was convicted of sodomy, Mugabe claimed his government once jailed a “top leader” for forcing himself on other men.
Samba Chesterfield, chair of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), said that the president was politicizing an anti-gay campaign, potentially making an already bad situation worse, and called for him “to desist from making such hate filled statements that impact on the lives of LGBT people.”
Article continues below“Mugabe needs to deal with issues such as unemployment, impunity, access to clean water and corruption in government, rather than such rhetoric that does not do much to win over a despondent electorate,” said Chesterfield.
Last month, Mugabe pledged to strengthen penalties against gays and lesbians, saying “they should rot in jail” if his Zanu PF party wins the upcoming elections.
He also promised that Zimbabwe’s constitution be amended to prohibit same-sex marriage.
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.
Mugabe has been continually attacking LGBT people since 1995 saying they are “worse than dogs and pigs” “unnatural” and “degrading human dignity.”