HARARE - “Now the real fear is kicking in,” said one LGBT Zimbabwean after President Robert Mugabe claimed an election victory this week.
Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 33 years, earlier this week claimed a landslide victory after pledging “hell for gays” if he was elected.
The opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has responded by saying the country’s elections have been a “monumental fraud”, reported Sky News.
Gay Star News has first-hand accounts from LGBT Zimbabweans about the escalating harassment as a result of Mugabe’s hate-speech.
All names have been changed to protect their identity.
Speaking from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, DM said: “This country is getting worse by the day for us LGBT people. I hope Mugabe’s threats of making the sentences stiffer were just mere politicking. Now the real fear is kicking in.”
In recent months Mugabe has intensified his anti-gay rhetoric as part of his election platform, saying he wants to change laws to ensure LGBT people ‘‘rot in jail’’ for life.
“Over the last three months Mugabe has been intensively mobilising an anti-homosexuality campaign,” said MC also from Harare.
“While Mugabe was campaigning for votes, he was castigating us. Before, people knew about homosexuality but didn’t want to talk about it, now they openly condemn us, and the violence is just too much.”
Other LGBT people are saying it’s best for them to keep silent, since self-identifying as homosexual is becoming increasingly dangerous.
GT from Chitungwiza said: “In my hometown we have been subject of insults, being forced to go to meetings and chant anti-gay slogans. We are known to be a lesbian couple and the harassment and intimidation is too much."
“We once reported a physical attack to the police, but the case was silenced. Now we can’t even report the people harassing us as the police are also on their side. So we have resorted to keeping quiet.”
Opposition party MDC has also kept quiet with regards to a policy statement on the legalisation of gay marriages.
While Mugabe has vowed gay marriages would never be accepted in Zimbabwe, the MDC has taken a slightly softer approach on their Frequently Asked Questions page online, saying it “will not condone gay marriages.”
“The MDC will not legalise gay marriages. The MDC upholds Christian values and wants to create a Christian State.”
ADT from Harare said: “We have always been linked to opposition party supporters, even when the opposition itself is also against us.
“Now if MDC loses we will suffer double trouble, first as homosexuals then as perceived opposition party supporters.”
NT from Bulawayo said: “If Zanu PF wins, I will have to leave the country because the Constitution criminalises same-sex marriages. Ordinary people deduce this to mean that homosexuality is criminal behaviour; whether I want to get married or not my existence is under threat here in my homeland.”