Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Gay rights in Zimbabwe: perhaps not just yet

If you’re looking for an example of a country where gay rights are not exactly catching on, look no further than Zimbabwe. The BBC reports that Robert Mugabe, not exactly a darling of Western liberals to begin with, had this to say about the possibility of introducing gay rights into the new constitution under discussion: “That issue is not debatable, it’s not up for discussion. It is just madness, insanity. The ancestors will turn in their graves should we allow this to happen.”

Oh but surely the brave leader of the opposition to Mugabe, and now Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, had something more enlightened to say? Not exactly. His words: “Women make up 52% of the population… There are more women than men, so why should men be proposing to men?” So … the reason not to support gay rights is that there are too many women to go around in Zimbabwe? It is for the good of women that gay men be pressured to marry them, because that is so obviously a formula for domestic bliss all around? And straight men, for their part, will be so pleased to have the added competition for wives? How delightful for everyone.


2 responses to “Gay rights in Zimbabwe: perhaps not just yet”

  1. Larry Catá Backer Avatar

    This is an old story for both Mugabe and Zimbabwe. Mugabe has been able to conflate the language of post colonialism and anti gay rhetoric. He used it to great effect early on in his prosecution of Canaan Banana for sodomy and political corruption. Mugabe has suggested that homosexuality is a disease brought to Africa by degenerate Europeans. This has not played well among intellectuals, of course, but it has had an important effect on shaping popular conceptions and the substantive constitutional basse line within Zimbabwe it seems.

  2. David Law Avatar

    Mugabe doesn’t surprise me, given the Banana case. But what about Tsvangirai? Couldn’t we have maybe hoped for better from him? Is he really playing the same rhetorical game as Mugabe?

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