Ten percent of Zimbabwe’s population are estimated to be gay or lesbian – they are simply born like this. However, only few dare to disclose their sexual orientation as homosexuality is largely rejected by the Zimbabwean society and considered taboo.
The current Zimbabwe Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act makes specific sexual acts illegal. According to popular belief, however, homosexuality is a crime. The national media exacerbates this attitude in Zimbabwe with homophobic statements by government leaders contributing to a misinformed, highly discriminatory socio-political environment.
In 2013, Zimbabwe adopted a constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage. It leaves the sexual minorities in a quandary, however, because it is silent on whether or not gay or lesbian love affairs are legal.
The marriage bill that has brought up the concept of civil partnerships has been precise in defining it as a relationship between a man and a woman .The term on its own being interpreted internationally to mean people in same sex relationships has caused the community and cabinet to want to remove it noting that because it has a gay international interpretation thus it does not uphold the countries moral standards. The issue of inclusion of same sex marriages has been removed from conversation totally showing that we are far from realising these rights.
The Bill outlaws same-sex marriages in the definitional section of terms, by defining the term “marriage” as meaning a marriage solemnised, registered or recognised as such in terms of the Act, being a union between persons of the opposite sex.
This is in line with Section 78 subsection 3 of the Constitution, which clearly states that, “persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other”.
Speaking to one of the victims who had to flee Zimbabwe for fear of her dear life, says she was harassed and attacked on a number of occasions whilst she was still in Zimbabwe and now even if she feels that home is best she still fears for her life that if dares returning she might get killed or jailed.
“Another unfortunate incident took place in 2018 when I was assaulted by six men who stayed in our neighborhood, these men knew about my sexuality since they always saw me with my partner. I sustained head injuries during the assault, when I reported my case to the police telling them I have been attacked by some men questioning my sexuality. The police said they could not do anything mentioning that my story was a bit complicated to open up a docket for gays/lesbians here in Zimbabwe” she added
Homosexual persons often experience violence and marginalization due to their sexual orientation. Aggression towards them ranges from verbal abuse and bullying to social discrimination, physical violence and psychological torture. This trend of abuse has been rampant mostly in the central parts of Harare, Gweru, Bindura and Bulawayo.