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Zimbabwe’s LGBT community in fear after Mugabe’s disputed re-election victory

Zimbabwe’s LGBT community in fear after Mugabe’s disputed re-election victory

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s LGBT community remains in fear following the re-election of President Robert Mugabe, who pledged during campaign rallies to impose tighter anti-gay legislation and called for gays to be jailed or beheaded.

Mugabe has been promising tougher measures against gay people in Zimbabwe, including long prison sentences, and at one point last month called for beheading gays.

Robert Mugabe

It is still unclear as to the intentions of Mugabe regarding tightening the already harsh anti-gay legislation of Zimbabwe.

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, however, said during an electoral campaign in June that laws against homosexuality were “too lenient,” and promised, “After the polls, we will strengthen the law and make it really punitive and bitterly punishable for such people.”

Samba Chesterfield, chair of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), told LGBTQ Nation: “Now that Mugabe has a two thirds majority, there is nothing to prevent it from tinkering with the constitution regarding LGBT people.”

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“It only a matter of time before we know which of his electoral promises will be delivered,” said Chesterfield. “For the gay community it’s a difficult period in our live just contemplating what the future might be.”

Mugabe was declared the winner of the July 31 July elections with 61 percent of the vote and his Zanu-PF party gained a two-thirds majority in parliament.

But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has claimed massive fraud and says it will go to court.

Zanu-PF has denied allegations of fraud.

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