1997 October

Zimbabwe President meets British gay rights leader

The notoriously homophobic President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, shook hands with and thanked British gay rights activist, Peter Tatchell, today, (Tuesday, 28th October, at 12 noon).

Masquerading as a TV cameraman, Tatchell slipped through a Special Branch security net, and got into the VIP area at London’s Westminster Central Hall, where President Mugabe was enjoying a cup of tea after speaking at “Africa at 40″, the International Conference on Independent Africa.

Once inside the VIP area, Tatchell went over to the President and said: “Hello, President Mugabe. In the 1970’s, when I was a young student, I helped raise funds for ZANU’s war of liberation”.

Mugabe smiled and shook Tatchell’s hand, saying: “Thank you. I am very grateful for the help you gave us. What are you doing now?”

Tatchell replied: “I am campaigning for lesbian and gay human rights”.

Mugabe, who was sipping tea, spluttered and said: “Pardon?”. Tatchell repeated that he was campaigning for gay rights.

Mugabe’s smile vanished. With a look of disapproval and an exasperated sigh, he responded: “Oh, the gays”.

Tatchell: “I’m very sad that you say gay people don’t have any rights.”

Mugabe: “We don’t necessarily persecute them — not if they are gay in private. We don’t agree with them organising and making a public issue out of it.”

Tatchell asked: “Why can’t you meet with gay groups?” Mugabe shrugged his shoulders and said, “Maybe”.

At this point Tatchell was surrounded by Special Branch officers who escorted him out of the VIP area. He was warned, but not arrested.

Last week Tatchell, a former Labour politician, wrote to his Labour colleague, the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, to urge the suspension of British aid to Zimbabwe, in protest at that country’s victimisation of homosexuals.

Call to suspend British aid to Zimbabwe

The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, is being urged to halt British aid to Zimbabwe, in protest at the country’s victimisation of lesbians and gay men.

The call comes from the gay rights group OutRage! as Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, arrives in Edinburgh to attend the Commonwealth summit.

Gay protests against Mugabe are planned in Edinburgh on Saturday, 25th October at 3:30 p.m.. (Details from Ian Dunn on 0131-557 1662 or Alec Deary on 01592-65.53.92.)

We urge the Foreign Secretary to put his ethical foreign policy into practice. He should tell Robert Mugabe that future British aid will be conditional on an end to victimisation of homosexuals.

OutRage! is also seeking joint Commonwealth action against Zimbabwe. The Commonwealth summit should condemn Zimbabwe’s homophobic witch-hunts. If Zimbabwe refuses to stop persecuting gay people, it should be suspended from the Commonwealth.

Mugabe has denounced lesbians and gays as “sexual perverts” who are “lower than dogs and pigs”. Rejecting calls for gay human rights, he said: “We don’t believe they have any rights at all”. (“The Guardian”, 2-August-1995 and 1-August-1996.) Mugabe has also warned homosexuals to leave Zimbabwe “voluntarily”, or face “dire consequences”. Since his comments, gays have been beaten, arrested, fire-bombed, and threatened with death.

Mugabe appears to be using his antigay crusade as a diversionary tactic to deflect public attention from economic mismanagement and government corruption.

Letter to Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl

The Chancellor,
Bundeskanzleramt,
D-53106 Bonn,
Germany.

20-October-1997

I am writing on behalf of OutRage! –the campaign for lesbian, gay and bisexual human rights– concerning the persecution of homosexuals during the Nazi era and the subsequent mistreatment of gay holocaust survivors by the German authorities.

We are shocked that the German government still refuses to compensate most gay holocaust survivors for their suffering, on the grounds that the Supreme Court ruled in 1957 that they were common criminals and were therefore legitimately incarcerated.

Furthermore, it cannot be morally right that the work of SS concentration camp guards is counted towards their pension entitlement, wheareas the years spent in the camps by gay prisoners are deducted from their pensions.

We would like to know why no Nazi doctors were ever prosecuted at the Nuremberg (N├╝rnberg) Trials –or since– for abusing gay concentration camp inmates in gruesome ‘medical’ experiments that, at Buchenwald, included forcible castration and hormone implants.

It is long overdue that the injustices suffered by the lesbian and gay victims of Hitlerism were remedied. We ask you, as Chancellor of democratic Germany, to:

  • apologise for the terrorisation of gay men and lesbians during the Third Reich;
  • authorise the payment of compensation to homosexual holocaust survivors, on a par with compensation to Jewish survivors;
  • recalculate the pensions of gay survivors to ensure that their period of detention in the camps is counted towards their pension entitlement;
  • bring to trial, on charges of crimes against humanity, the Nazi doctors involved in the medical abuse of gay prisoners.
    We look forward to receiving your assurance of prompt action to rectify these past injustices.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

Robert Mugabe challenged to ‘take the test’

Research shows that most homophobes are repressed homosexuals

The notoriously homophobic President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is being invited to take an erotic arousal test, to dispel suggestions that his antigay attitudes could be evidence of repressed homosexuality.

Mugabe is arriving in Britain to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh, from 24-27 October.

OutRage! has written to Mugabe, (see below), challenging him to take a test devised by US psychologist, Prof. Henry E. Adams of the University of Georgia.

Research by Prof. Adams suggests that 80 percent of men who are homophobic have secret homosexual feelings. In Prof. Adams’s test, homophobic men who said they were exclusively heterosexual were shown gay sex videos. Four out of five became sexually aroused by the homoerotic imagery, as recorded by a penile circumference measuring device (a plethysmograph).

Prof. Adams’s research was published in the prestigious US Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 1996, with the backing of the American Psychological Association.

President Mugabe has denounced lesbians and gays as “sexual perverts” who are “worse than dogs and pigs”. “We don’t believe they have any rights at all”, he said. These remarks have prompted the beating, fire-bombing and arrest of homosexuals.

Prof. Adams says his research shows that most homophobes “demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli”, suggesting that homophobia is a form of “latent homosexuality where persons are either unaware of or deny their homosexual urges”.

These findings support the theories that homophobia (fear and hatred of gayness and support for antigay discrimination) is often indicative of repressed, self-loathing homosexual feelings; and that many homophobes subconsciously use antigay attitudes as a smokescreen to disguise their own homosexuality.

Dear Robert Mugabe,

You are well known for your homophobic prejudice and opposition to lesbian and gay human rights.

It may therefore interest you to learn that new research by Prof. Henry E. Adams of the University of Georgia in the USA suggests that 80 percent of homophobes get sexually aroused by gay erotic imagery, lending support to the theory that overt homophobia is often evidence of repressed homosexual feelings.

Writing in the authoritative Journal of Abnormal Psychology (1996, Vol. 105, No. 3, pp. 440-445), Prof. Adams reported that he tested a group of men who expressed homophobic attitudes, and who said they were exclusively heterosexual and had never had any homosexual experiences or fantasies. He wired these men to a penile circumference measuring device (a plethysmograph) and showed them gay sex videos.

Prof. Adams found that 80 percent of the homophobic men tested became sexually aroused when watching the homosexual imagery, (their sexual arousal being indicated by penile enlargement).

His findings are consistent, he says, with theories that homophobia is a form of latent homosexuality and that antigay attitudes indicate a person’s fear and loathing of their own repressed homosexual urges.

In view of this research and your homophobic attitudes, there is now bound to be speculation about your sexuality. We are sure this speculation is without foundation but to end the innuendo that you might harbour repressed homosexual feelings, we invite you to take Prof. Adams’s test.

Under medical supervision, OutRage! is offering to wire you to a penile circumference measuring device and show you gay sex videos. If you are not gay, there will be no penile enlargement and you will have strong scientific evidence to dispel any queries about your sexual orientation.

We invite you to contact us to make an appointment during your forthcoming visit to Britain for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Section 28 and sex education

Letter from the Department for Education and Employment

Thank you for your letter … regarding sex education for young gay people in schools.

Well planned and effectively presented sex education is vital. Young people need to gain the skills and understanding necessary to take responsible decisions about their personal and sexual behaviour. Although the responsibility for the detailed content and organisation of sex education lies with individual schools, there is no restriction on teaching about lesbian and gay issues in the classroom. Diversity, gender issues and the challenging of stereotypes should feature as part of schools’ Personal, Social and Health Education provision. (Emphasis added.) Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 applies to the activities of the local authorities themselves, so does not apply to the activities of the governing bodies and staff of schools. Nevertheless, the Government has long made clear its opposition to Section 28 and intends to repeal it when legislative opportunity exists.

I do not believe that there is room for complacency regarding the current provision of sex education in schools, but rather development and improvement. This Department, along with the Department of Health, is considering sex education and the provision of sexual health services, in the context of the Government’s health strategy.

Best wishes,

Estelle Morris.
(Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State)

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