Actus Reus: An analysis of human rights violations against LGBTI persons in Zimbabwe

/Executive Summary

This report is an analysis of the trends emerging from the annual violations reports compiled by the Association of LGBTI people in Zimbabwe (GALZ) between the periods 2012 to 2017. The analysis extensively draws data from a total of 170 violations extracted from 104 actual cases compiled and categorized by GALZ into 12 types. The 12 types of violations recorded are assault, threats, outing, discrimination, police harassment, Unlawful detention, disownment, blackmail, displacement, unfair labour practice, hate speech and invasion of privacy.

In a number of the reported cases, experiencing one form of violation inevitably led to experiencing other violations as well. This analysis report traces the progression of these violations over time, placing them within the context of predisposing environmental factors that expose the Zimbabwean LGBTI persons to homo, bi, trans phobic violence.

A trend developing across all the reviewed reports shows that the most common categories of violations are assault (19%), threats (15%), blackmail (15%) and being outed (11%). It also emerged in the analysis that the government of Zimbabwe is a key actor in influencing change in terms of how issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are addressed both at state level and among the ordinary Zimbabweans. Participation of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, under the government’s Ministry of Home affairs is noted with keen interest. The police can potentially play a role in reducing violations perpetrated against LGBTI persons by simply discharging their mandate without discrimination or prejudice.

The report notes that the family is one of the most central socialising institutions for individuals and can be instrumental in promoting tolerance to a multiplicity of sexual orientations and gender identities. If the default response of families to outing is disownment, this leaves very little hope for other institutions to behave differently. Furthermore, the analysis found that in some cases, the degree to which LGBTI individuals are vulnerable is in part influenced by their own behaviour and practices. Some LGBTI persons have involuntarily outed themselves following attendance at public LGBTI events where pictures of them were taken and circulated in media accessible to the public resulting in their victimisation and limitation of their human rights. The analysis also found that civil society, as a key player, needs to maintain and accelerate the momentum around interventions that address the human rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Overall, the report paints a less than satisfactory picture of the LGBTI situation in the country. Clearly much more work will still need to be done to reach desired levels where LGBTI persons can live dignified lives as guaranteed by the various provisions in the constitution of Zimbabwe. The number of violations from which this analysis draws are just the tip of the ice-berg in relation to the many other incidences that go unreported within the communities where LGBTI live. If the public cannot immediately embrace non- heteronormative conforming individuals, at least let there be public knowledge that simply identifying as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or intersex is not a criminal offence in and of itself and cannot be prosecuted; therefore the homophobic attacks are unwarranted and needless.

Source: GALZ

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