Zimbabwe: Trumped-up Prosecution of GALZ President on Sodomy Charges

OutRage! urges activists concerned about the persecution in Zimbabwe of Keith Goddard of GALZ on trumped-up charges to send letters of protest to:

Zimbabwe High Commission, 429, Strand, London WC2.
Tel. 020-

President of Zimbabwe,
The President’s Office,
Post Bag 7700,

Dear Robert Mugabe,

You will recall that we met over coffee at the “Africa At 40” conference at Central Hall Westminster last October. During the 1970’s, I was involved in fund-raising and political campaigning on behalf of ZANU. You thanked me for my efforts in support of the War of Liberation.

I raised with you the issue of lesbian and gay human rights, expressing my concern that homosexual people in Zimbabwe were being harassed and threatened, and that your own past antigay comments had fuelled the atmosphere of intolerance.

When I asked you to reconsider your public hostility to lesbian and gay people and their human rights, you said that homosexuals in Zimbabwe would not be persecuted. You even said, in response to my questioning, that you “may” be willing to meet with lesbian and gay organisations to discuss their concerns.

These responses were, to my pleasant surprise, much more conciliatory than your earlier public pronouncements. I had hoped that you might eventually commence a dialogue with lesbian and gay Zimbabweans.

It is therefore with great sadness that I learn of the continuing harassment of the human rights group, Gays & Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ): in particular the arrest of GALZ leader, Keith Goddard, on charges of forced sodomy – despite the police possession of evidence that the alleged “victim” had been attempting to blackmail and extort money from Goddard.

Knowing Keith Goddard personally, it is inconceivable that he would ever use sexual force or pressure. He is a most gentle, considerate man, to whom any form of coercive sex would be abhorrent.

Personally, and on behalf of the lesbian and gay human rights group OutRage!, I urge you to intervene to ensure that these absurd, unjust and uncorroborated charges against Keith Goddard are dropped.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.

Mugabe launched yet another attack on homosexuals on 22-April-1998, and criticised the World Council of Churches which, he claimed, intended to discuss homosexuality during its international assembly in Harare in December this year.

In an emotional eulogy at the home of Charles Chikerema, the late editor of a Government newspaper, The Herald, who died on 21 April, President Mugabe said that homosexuality was evil and was not justifiable by any means.

“Animals in the jungle are better than these people because at least they know how to distinguish between a male and a female,” said Mugabe, speaking in the Shona language. He repeated his views –which caused international controversy several years ago– that homosexuality was completely unacceptable and neither African nor Christian.