Zimbabwe: Homophobia Fuelling HIV infections

The gay population is disproportionately burdened by HIV infection, a situation which is worsened by laws that penalise same-sex intercourse and contribute to a cycle of stigma, homonegativity and discrimination.

In many African countries, laws criminalising homosexuality may be fuelling the epidemic, as they dissuade key populations from seeking treatment and health care providers from offering it.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries where homosexuality is contra bonos mores (against societal values) and there is widespread homophobia (range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

However, recent reports shared by Galz suggest that the prevalence is reportedly rising among the gay population, with at least 32,8% of women, who have sex with other women and 28% of men, who have sex with other men being HIV positive.

Zimbabwe criminalises same sex marriages. Even though the new Constitution guarantees rights such as equality and non-discrimination, it is silent on specific rights for LGBTI community.

It is against this background that a balancing act is now required. This is most critical in the face of reports that most of the members of the gay population are living double standards meaning some of them are in “normal” relationships, but secretly have same sex partners.

Galz programmes officer, Sylvester Nyamatendedza, at a recent meeting, shared that accessing basic health needs for the gay population remained a huge challenge due to stigma and discrimination from the community and health workers. Read more via News Day