GALZ, Zimbabwe’s LGBTI group, says that compared to previous years the country’s recent elections showed a welcome lack of anti-gay rhetoric from politicians.
The general elections to elect the president and members of both houses of parliament were held on 30 July. The official results were narrowly in favour of the ruling Zanu-PF but they remain contested by the opposition. Six people were killed in riots against the outcome after the army opened fire on demonstrators.
Despite the controversy and deaths, Chester Samba, Director of GALZ, told Daily News that the elections were a “historic win” for the LGBTI community following years of anti-LGBTI sentiment typically surging during election campaigns.
“We witnessed a reduction in homophobic hate speech and reduction in the politicisation of LGBTI individuals as campaign tools…” he said. Samba explained that in the past, during homophobic former President Robert Mugabe’s rule, political parties had “used LGBTI identities as ammunition to fuel campaign rallies and strategies.”
He noted that, “campaign rallies, mainly by Mugabe, were filled with hate speech towards LGBTI people”, and said that complaints to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had been ignored.
Samba also claimed that GALZ had recorded “an increase in the number of LGBTI people that voted” in the latest elections. He did reveal, however, that there had been some incidents in which transgender people faced difficulties while voting where queues were based on gender.