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.