PM urged to expell Zimbabwe from Commonwealth

The Prime Minister,
10, Downing Street.

9th November, 1999.

Dear Tony Blair,


I am writing on behalf of the gay human rights group OutRage! to request that, during the Commonwealth Summit in South Africa, you initiate moves to expel Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and to suspend British aid to Zimbabwe, until such time as Robert Mugabe’s government halts its attacks on the gay community and other abuses of human rights.

The expulsion of Zimbabwe is recommended by the prestigious London-based Foreign Policy Centre, of which you are a patron.

The Zimbabwean government has long flouted international human rights conventions: from the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s, to the ban on gay participation in the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in 1995 and the torture of journalists Ray Choto and Mark Chavunduka earlier this year.

President Mugabe’s government stands accused of murder, torture, censorship, detention without trial, bans on strikes and protests, and the violent suppression of peaceful dissent.

The President has denounced lesbians and gays as “sexual perverts” and “beasts”, who are “worse than dogs and pigs”. Rejecting calls for homosexual human rights, he said: “We don’t believe they have any rights at all”. He has warned gay people to leave Zimbabwe “voluntarily” or face “dire consequences”.

Since his inflammatory comments, homosexuals in Zimbabwe have been beaten, arrested, framed on trumped up charges, fire-bombed and threatened with death.

Your government is committed to an ethical foreign policy. We ask you to give this policy effect by cooperating with other Commonwealth leaders to isolate Zimbabwe and deny President Mugabe the trade and aid on which his government depends for its survival.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell.