Calling same-sex relationships “inhuman,” Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe reportedly threatened to expel diplomats who support the rights of LGBT people during a nationally televised ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the country’s independence from Great Britain.
“We did not fight for this Zimbabwe so it can be a homosexual territory,” Mugabe said as reported by New Zimbabwe. (Video of the event was not immediately available on the site of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, which aired it live.) “We will never have that here and if there are any diplomats who will talk of any homosexuality, just tell me. We will kick them out of the country without any excuse. We won’t even listen.”
Mugabe also said that he was warned “some years ago” that there “was some secret organisation” recruiting young men into homosexuality.
“This nonsense from Europe, keep their homosexual nonsense there and not cross over with it,” Mugabe reportedly said. “If you pass a law that rejects homosexual marriages, ‘we will punish you’ like what they are doing to Uganda and us. And they say they want you to believe that if a man gets another man and they have a homosexual relationship, they have human rights to do so … But that act is inhuman. It’s not human and human rights cannot derive from acts which are inhuman. That does not exist in jurisprudence…”
“Sodomy” has long been illegal in Zimbabwe, but the Sexual Deviancy Act in 2006 also criminalized any relation between men “that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act.” Anti-gay rhetoric has been a frequent weapon in Mugabe’s efforts to keep power in Zimbabwe, which he’s ruled since the country became independent. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF Party accused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of supporting same-sex marriage in 2012 debates over a new constitution and during the 2013 elections. Forty-four members of the organization Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe were arrested during the debate over the constitution, and the organization’s office was attacked by Mugabe-aligned forces last June.