As if the news in the past few months had not been bad enough for gays in Uganda, where a law to execute gays has been proposed, and in Malawia, where a gay couple were recently sentenced to 14 years hard labor for their love, now comes word of trouble for gays in Zimbabwe.
The information below was shared a short while ago on the Gays Without Borders listserv on Yahoo. It came from Denis Nzioka, a courageous gay leader in Kenya, and the message originated with gays in South Africa.
Please share this terrible news, and help bring some visibility to the mounting problems for gays across Africa.
Here's the message:
We write to inform you of the detention of two employees of Gay and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)—Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Mhambi— yesterday evening. They were arrested after a raid of the GALZ office by the Central Intelligence Department. The officers came with a search warrant looking for evidence that GALZ was dealing in hard drugs and/or were in possession of pornography.
They took all the GALZ computers and other materials from the office. The officers then came back and arrested everyone in the GALZ office. Only Ellen and Ignatius were there. Both Ellen and Ignatius are still in custody.
Derek Matyszak, a human rights lawyer who has been working with GALZ for a long time, has been trying to get in to see them. Ellen’s health is of particular concern as she is diabetic and needs her medication and food.
We understand that it is currently unsafe for GALZ employees and volunteers who are outside of Zimbabwe at various meetings, including an OSISA meeting in Johannesburg, to return to Zimbabwe as there is a concern that they will be arrested at the airport.
This arrest and raid are part of growing pressure in Zimbabwe against LGBT rights. About a month ago, two foreign student interns were stopped at the airport trying to leave Zimbabwe and interrogated and detained. All of the GALZ material they had in their possession was confiscated.
At the moment, we are waiting for word from Chesterfield Samba, who is at a meeting in Namibia, to determine a strategy going forward and particularly what those of us outside of Zimbabwe can do to assist.
Also, we know Fadzai is on this list and we are sure she can also provide more information and updates.
All the best,