'Gays, lesbians also love God'

HARARE - Our senior assistant editor Guthrie Munyuki chats to Galz director Chesterfield Samba. Below are excerpts of the interview.

Q: What is the role of Galz?

A: Galz exists primarily to provide a service to lesbian women, gay men, bisexual, transgender and transsexual men and women, and intersex persons (LGBTI persons).

Galz provides practical support, guidance and assistance to the LGBTI community in relation to various matters, including but not limited to law, security, health and general wellbeing. 

Galz supports and exercises direct action, when required, to protect members of the LGBTI community in Zimbabwe. Galz strives for the fullest participation of all members of the community in influencing policy making, achieving equity and attaining full and equal human, social and economic rights in all aspects of life for LGBTI persons

Q: How many members do you have and who constitutes that membership?

A: Membership of Galz is open to anyone who is interested and committed to the achievement of its objective and is willing to abide by the rules of the organisation provided that the individual has attained the legal age of majority and has been accepted as a member. Galz interacts with close to a thousand individuals each year

Q: What are the problems and challenges that you face as an organisation?

A: State-sanctioned homophobia is a challenge to Galz’s programming implementation. Government officials, religious and traditional leaders have given their voice in support of the exclusion of LGBTI people from national processes.

Galz has experienced more human rights violations in the form of unwarranted arrests, physical assaults, harassment and raids of offices.

Victimisation is as a result of the work we do to promote the rights and interests of LGBTI people in general.

This situation has limited the spaces through which we can engage effectively with the LGBTI community and relevant policy and decision makers to legitimise our existence and the important work we do.

Galz faces specific challenges relating to lack of safe spaces and resources to respond adequately to crisis situations such as threats, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions and harassment. Owing to the persistent raids on the Galz offices we have become vulnerable to significant security concerns.

The police are very active in suppressing the activities of the organisation and are also involved in blackmail of LGBTI people.

Mounting court cases instigated by the State, the use of Posa to stifle the work of Galz by limiting places in which Galz can work in.

The membership of Galz is also drawn largely from high-density and peri-urban areas. As with the general population, many have been adversely affected by the ongoing Zimbabwean crisis and are unemployed, sometimes homeless. But they also live with the additional social stigma of being gay or lesbian and being victimised by the State.

Q: Why did you form the association and what value does it bring to the Zimbabwean society?

A: To strive for the attainment of full, equal rights and the removal of all forms of discrimination in all aspects of life for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender men and women in Zimbabwe and to inform, educate, counsel and support such people in matters relative to their health and wellbeing. 

We also encourage civil, social, economic, educational, sporting, political and other related opportunities and activities for LGBTI persons; and act on behalf of and to represent LGBTI persons, generally and individually. We promote an awareness of issues which affect LGBTI communities in Zimbabwe.

Q: The State criminalises your activities, how do you function without inviting the wrath of the authorities?

A: Apart from our own determination, the law here guarantees freedom of association that gives Galz some pretence of legal protection.

We are recognised under law which means we can sue and be sued. Secondly, because the organisation has been around for so long, we have developed our own survival tactics and thanks to all the bad publicity, people know we exist. And Galz is wiser: they don’t try to make public noise and certainly keep our noses out of party politics although sometimes we are dragged into it.

Q: Do you have, as Galz, high-ranking officials, including ministers among your membership, and of you do, why are these ministers not protecting you from state-sponsored harassment?

A: We do not have high-ranking people in our membership for the obvious reasons of fear of association and the prevailing climate of homophobia in Zimbabwe. It would be difficult for them to come out in support of Galz as they have so much to lose at the end of the day.

Q: Which rights does Galz advocate for and which ones are being violated by authorities?

A: Gays and lesbians do not demand greater rights than the heterosexual community. They simply demand equality of treatment. If an action is prohibited for a heterosexual, then so should it be prohibited for a homosexual. In short, gays and lesbians simply demand equal rights.

Opposition to sexual-orientation rights often stems from a mistaken belief that such right will mean that anything goes, that if rights are given to gays and lesbians that there can likewise be no control placed on those who rape or abuse children

While sexual orientation immediately brings gay rights to mind, there is nothing in the phrase itself that requires that this be so. We all have a sexual orientation, whether it is homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual etc. We have suffered a history of purposeful discrimination.

This discrimination embodies a gross unfairness that is sufficiently inconsistent with the ideals of equal protection. The most obvious area of discrimination against gay men in Zimbabwe is in criminal law.

Discrimination impacts on gays and lesbians in a plethora of ways, which those accustomed; to heterosexual privilege remain completely unaware of.

Q: Are there any specific rights of LGBTI people in the new Constitution and how do these relate to your membership?

A: LBGTI’s are subject to the same rights and duties as every other citizen in Zimbabwe. The Constitution generally does not distinguish citizens on the basis of sexual preference or orientation.

The only such distinction is with respect to marriage. Assuming that there are gay rights is misleading as it suggests a rights regiment for LGBTI’s that is different from all other rights holders. This is not the case.

The 2013 Constitution’s Declaration or Bill of Rights is a great improvement to the 1980 Lancaster House Constitution version. It has several innovations that are worthy of note.

The first and perhaps the most obvious one is that it expands the number of rights that are set out for enjoyment by the people in Zimbabwe.

In addition, to the civil and political rights that were outlined in the old constitution, it also includes economic, social and cultural rights.

So now citizens get to enjoy and are able to claim against the State the Rights to Language and Culture, Right to Education, Right to Health Care and Right to Food and Water. We believe that all these apply to LGBTI people as well.

Q: You have previously clashed with Emmanuel Makandiwa over Galz activities and claimed some of your members attend his church. How many of these go to his church?

A: We do not have exact numbers and our position was that the fundamental role of the church is to foster love, unity, empathy and cohesion in society. This did not seem to be reflected in his offensive comments that infact reinforce prejudice against LGBTI people in this country and encourage persecution.

Q: How do you correlate the two: having members attending church which despises your activities and continuing to have same members ‘doing’ what the church loathes?

A: We gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians take the Bible seriously, too. The Bible has sadly, become a source of conflict between Christians, in their thinking about sexuality. The struggle seems to be about who understands — from the Bible — what God’s will is for human sexuality and its expression. Throughout history, people have had different understandings of God’s will on different issues: Slavery — is it God’s will that some people should be slaves? Women’s roles -— should women be allowed to speak in the church? May they be spiritual leaders or not?

We have LGBTI people who pray that God will guide them in their understanding and interpretation of the Bible, and help them to live according to God’s two great commandments.

“Love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as you love yourself”.

Q: How does Galz mitigate the spread of HIV/Aids among its membership?

A: Galz runs a very successful health programme. Matters of health and physical and emotional wellbeing for LGBTI are a central focus within Galz.

We have a national support group for members who are infected or affected by HIV/Aids.

The programmes department keeps a database of friendly doctors and clinics to ensure that members receive efficient healthcare from professionals.

Comments (36)

what are you missing from a female or male partner that you cry for equal rights.its ungodly please.

ole - 27 May 2014

Homosexuality is not acceptable before God. God is not a respecter of persons, He respects his own word.... if you love God then you should follow his word.

Joseph - 27 May 2014

Mr. Editor, hhayi lapha usulahleke big time. Into osuyiyenza wena yikufuna ukuthengisa iphepha lakho kuphela zwi. Wena uma nxa indodana yakho ingabuya lomunye umfana ibisisithi nguye umalokazana wakho ungakujabulela yini lokho? Isihaqa ungaze usifake itsukela sona umthetho waso siyababa. Yikho ke indaba yakho le labantu bakho laba be GALZ ngicela usitshayise ngumoya. Lawa ngamanyala, kulihlazo lokhu. Ibhayibheli elingcwele encwadini ka Leviticus18 vs 22, Leviticus 20 vs 13 ithi owesilisa engalali lomunye owesilisa njengalokhu akwenzayo nxa elala lowesifazane. Owesilisa ozayenza lokhu kuyabe sekulihlazo. Ngokunjalo baba Editor indaba yakho le ngicela uhloniphe uzulu. Njalo ungasebenzisi ibizo lika Nkulunkulu ngeze. Ku 1 Corinthians 6 vs 9 - 10 ithi ama homosexuals akho lawo kasoze awubone umbuso wezulu. So there you are Mr. Editor do not try to sell your paper by supporting an ungodly act. Or maybe you are trying to please a certain group/ community that we do not know. Nxa abanye abantu sebesithi lina lilandela abamhlophe hook line and sinker libe selisithi balamanga.

Mabhengeza - 27 May 2014

Hypocrites claiming to love God are countless. Gays are sick minded people full stop. Yes they should be allowed to live like any sick person but NO WOMAN CAN IMPREGNATE ANOTHER WOMAN & NO MAN CAN IMPREGNATE ANOTHER MAN. While sex can be enjoyed,its the only tool for procreation. The bible is very clear about how God hates homosexuality.Please don't waste time & resources talking about homosexuality. Some even deliberately use this rubbish to discredit opposition politics but that is not at all a national problem.

RWARAI HENYU - 27 May 2014

Haaya, Dailynews!! what's this? What are you really trying to prove? What message are you trying to send to us? iiii aiwa, kubva ndiyo freedom yacho. Mwari tibatsireiwo.

kitsi - 27 May 2014

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WATER - 27 May 2014

Please Kitsi,remember someone's meat can be someone's poison. DAILY NEWSPAPER has done nothing wrong in publishing the above article. I for one see a lot of sense in it. So don't dictate to DAILY NEWS what to publish or not to publish. Just don't buy the newspaper if it has nothing of interest to you.

DOCTOR HENDE - 27 May 2014

Musatanyoko wake bloody ngochane, inga Mwari vanoti repent wani, we are all sinners so lets repent usiye zvekuiswa kumanywa, im very sure this galz organisation is protected by an influential person in governement!!!

Garwe - 27 May 2014

The world has gone mad!! When given a hammer one naturally uses the hammer head to hit nails. Using the handle of the hammer instead requires correctional training. This is what homosexuals need. It is disquieting to find normal people supporting this errant behaviour. I would not kill a person because they have this tendency, but I would surely teach them what is the correct behaviour. Romans 1:22, 26-27. The God they may profess to love wants them to abandon homosexuality and live a normal life.

simon - 27 May 2014

The world has gone mad!! When given a hammer one naturally uses the hammer head to hit nails. Using the handle of the hammer instead requires correctional training. This is what homosexuals need. It is disquieting to find normal people supporting this errant behaviour. I would not kill a person because they have this tendency, but I would surely teach them what is the correct behaviour. Romans 1:22, 26-27. The God they may profess to love wants them to abandon homosexuality and live a normal life.

simon - 27 May 2014

The world has gone mad!! When given a hammer one naturally uses the hammer head to hit nails. Using the handle of the hammer instead requires correctional training. This is what homosexuals need. It is disquieting to find normal people supporting this errant behaviour. I would not kill a person because they have this tendency, but I would surely teach them what is the correct behaviour. Romans 1:22, 26-27. The God they may profess to love wants them to abandon homosexuality and live a normal life.

simon - 27 May 2014

no servant can serve 2 masters- you cannot serve God and Satan..i wonder which bible they are reading! if they are!

bonie - 27 May 2014

But surely why will the daily news stoop so low. What were you trying to achieve by this interview. You are only trying to arouse interest in people to think over things which are ungodly. Surely there lacks logic in pursuing such immoral issues.

analytic analysis - 27 May 2014

Yes, Gays and Lesbians are humans. According to the Holy Book not human reasoning (lets cast down reasonings) gay-ism and lesbianism was condemned by God by death. Those fellows are satanic because they have indulged in doing things that are an abomination to God. Gays and Lesbianism do not love God. Those who love God do and practice God's word day in and day out.

Serpent Seed - 27 May 2014

izvi zvamavakutiitira ndochii vanhuve daily news. chingochani hatidi siyanai nazvo, god even condemned and destroyed sodom and gomorrah because of chgingochani. dont give these people (gays and lesbians) any space in your newspaper they are worse than pigs and dogs. apa ndipo pandinotenderana nabob chete.

CDE CHURUCHEMINZWA - 27 May 2014

Its not acceptable to God and God does not Change please stop fooling us.

lionel - 27 May 2014

My question is simple . What does it mean to "love God" ? The God who created heaven and earth says, " If you love Me Keep my commandments". Therefore, it's simple to see that the God whom the gays and lesbians says they love and seek his guidance is not the one who created the heaven and earth and gave humanity His ten Commandments which are summed up as " Love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as you love yourself” as with their current practice they live in rebellion against Him like all evolutionists.

b - 27 May 2014

iiii nhai imi ana ngochani, madii makumbira UN yakupai kwokugara kwenyu mega, kwakaita sekuUK kusina anokunetsai tozoona kuti kana machembera vana venyu vamuchazvara ikoko vachakuchengetai here. Munongotinetsa isu tiri vane vana vachakuchengetai machembera. Muri imbwa chaidzo

grandy - 27 May 2014

I am happy if homosexual love God, I will be happier if the start obeying God and stop this vile and inconvenient act which is a product of lust and reprobate minds. We love and pray for you that you will recover from this satanic influence and confusion.

Maxwell Msindo - 27 May 2014

I think it's wrong to say state sponsored homophobia. From the comments above u can the ordinary people do not subscribe to homosexuality. It's unfortunate that this leader of galz would like to politicize such a serious social issue. World wide this homosexuality has not been fully accepted. Most states in USA have laws that prohibit the propagation of homosexuality as an acceptable alternative to human existence.

Eddy - 28 May 2014

imika ini ndinongoti chingochani is not a choice , he is right actually i cant be cold criminal cos even heterosexuals cant change their sexual orientation and so u too cnt do the same , its painful to be gay , its not as easy to change as people think , besides if we were many noone would even talk about this , nowonder we are a minority in God's sight , it might be a biblical mistake kuti hazvibvumirwe .Vanhu vakanyora bible and some may have been influenced by wrong motives

mwanawashe - 28 May 2014

I suggest gays invite makandiwa for spiritual help and be prayed for tione kuti mademon acho awabude here, I am convinced most of them will be delivered after the prayer, the problem is thz gays are sponsored left right and centre by the west so once delivered they will lose money but its, much better than losing your soul, in short they have sold their souls to the devil. God loves u and still gives you a chance to repent, Makandiwa can deliver you from thez evil desires. iwe chesterfield if u are sure God made u like that, get prayed for and prove me wrong tione....

nikki - 28 May 2014

Thank you Daily News for the article, all we read about is Mugabe's tirades on the issue, this is refreshing for a change to read about the other side of the story.Kudos to you

Mupepereki - 28 May 2014

Vara rinondityisa ndere kuti democracy. Democracy allows for all wrong things including this kind of culture. That could be the reason some politicians seem double faced when asked about their take regarding sodomy. The Bible is clear that this culture is evil.

pastor - 28 May 2014

My bible says for God so loved the world that WHOSOEVER BELIEVES in him should not perish... In the whosoever the LGBTIQ community. Its a pity to read some people already putting judgement and saying gays and lesbians shall not see the gates of heaven. Don't use the bible to justify homophobia. Need I remind you that the same bible was used to justify colonialism in Africa and the humiliation of women around the world. READ. As you read this, take a look at what you are wearing and tell me if it complies with Lev.19:19, tell me how should you die? Don't hate tolerate!!!

Dumi - 28 May 2014

PLEASE KILL THESE GAYS SO THAT THEIR GENES ARE COMPLETELY DESTROYED. THEY ARE DRUG USERS. HOW CAN A PERSON THINK LESS THAN A BABOON. HAVE EVER SEEN GAYS AMONG BABOONS? IF NOT, WHY IN PEOPLE. IT IS BECAUSE THE PURPOSE OF SEX IS TO RECREATE AND NOT TO EAT SPERMS. THESE DOGS.

Danai Pazvagozha - 28 May 2014

This is a brilliant article to educate the public about Galz's work. I am wondering who all these people really are commenting loosely, arrogantly and expressing hate for homosexuals. If homosexuals are to burn in hell as you reiterate, the bible teaches about sin so whats your concern as other human beings, why don't you let God deal with them when he judges. Galz is advocating for a good cause - "Equality for all". We are all human beings on earth and we should live as such. I really wonder who in the end would go to hell - the persecutor or the victim - as God says, He is a just God. We are on earth and all human beings should respect each other. Hate messages do not build health relationships and living. Lets love one another as we love ourselves. The greatest commandment is, "Love God as you love your neighbour" These homosexuals you referring to are your sons, daughters, uncles, nieces, fathers/mothers, doctors, teachers, policy makers and presidents. Lets respect each other and show dignity as human beings. Kudos to the Daily News - Education is power.

Itsallaboutliving - 28 May 2014

galz is sheer madness ,nothing more nothing less

charles gorerakanaka - 28 May 2014

aaah, this is amazing. these people should have known better. thus why sodoma and gomora were destroyed had they ever known this...please read the bible that is if ever they got some

winstone mbayo - 28 May 2014

aaah, this is amazing. these people should have known better. thus why sodoma and gomora were destroyed had they ever known this...please read the bible that is if ever they got some

winstone mbayo - 28 May 2014

mufungwa makanzvenga PTU!!

Chidondova - 28 May 2014

Haiwa iwa

gay - 28 May 2014

Whiskey tango foxtrot, this is utter nonsense.

Nyakudirwa - 28 May 2014

The Bible must be used correctly to avoid serious implications. How can someone claim to love God yet he doesn't want to like His command. God can not be fooled. You can fool people here on earth. Yes indeed you're worse than dogs and pigs!

Regalia - 28 May 2014

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7. Thank you for an informative article and being the advocacy for the truth. Aluta continua...

Anonymous - 28 May 2014

I have gotten tired of engaging in these debates online as of late, but once in a while I do engage, how is it, as Africans, a group of people who were historically marginalized due to western ideology, are so keen to do the same? How is it, that a person as I, who neither believes in your (G)god(s) is subject to every whim of religion intolerance in all parts of Africa and the Middle East? The same religions that have been used to perpetrate countless injustices throughout history, and more so in Africa? How? How? How? Africans? Is this the most pressing thing in our country/continent so as to garner this much backlash? Is this the one thing that unites us across the divide? Religious intolerance? This is the reason why 200 girls get abducted in Nigeria, 200 people are killed in South Sudan, thousands are killed and driven from their homes in CAR, and people are made to eat grass, all in the name of (G)god and in the name of religion. There should be no place in Africa for discrimination, no place for intolerance in whatever form, because we are not mature enough as a people to know where to draw the line. Thank you Daily News, more and more I am beginning to see some modicum of objective journalism in Zimbabwe's media.

Luchie - 29 May 2014

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