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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 14 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 11
Zimbabwe police raid Gay conference
Section One
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Zimbabwe police raid Gay conference

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Zimbabwe police stormed a hotel in the capital city of Harare on March 12, and broke up a conference of LGBT activists. Two conference leaders were arrested, questioned, and later released.

The group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) was holding a media training in the Bronte Hotel, with some 20 human rights activists in attendance. According to attendees, police entered the training session, demanded to see IDs, and took down names and addresses of participants.

They then took the training facilitator and a GALZ youth coordinator into custody.

Police charged them with a violation of Section 25 of the Public Order Security Act, holding a public meeting without permission.

'Any organizer of a public meeting, demonstration or procession who fails to give the police advance notice in accordance with POSA is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $2000 (¬1440) or a year's imprisonment or both,' the law says.

According to GALZ activists, this law is used to target critics of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and groups deemed to be 'pro-Western.'

The two activists were later released unharmed.

GALZ has won two court cases against the Zimbabwe government this year.

In January, Zimbabwe's High Court ruled that police acted improperly in a raid on GALZ headquarters in which they confiscated computers, materials and publications.

A month later, charges against the chair of GALZ were dismissed by the High Court, after the government accused him of running an unregistered organization.

At a February news conference, Mugabe claimed that he had not realized until recently that there were Gay people in his country, and he hinted at a further crackdown on the country's LGBT community.

In the past Mugabe has said that LGBT Zimbabweans are 'worse than dogs or pigs,' and once threatened to cut their heads off. Activists have also charged Zimbabwe's police force with harassment, assault, and even torture.

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