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Police Intensify Crackdown on Homosexuals in Zimbabwe

Police have intensified their crackdown on non-governmental organizations and members of the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe after raiding their offices on Thursday.

Defence lawyers have vowed to defend GALZ members accused by the state of circulating material they say is meant to promote homosexuality.

Lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara, who has been assigned by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to defend the GALZ members arrested and released recently after publishing details of state brutalities against their organization, said the police should stop harassing the defenseless Zimbabweans.

Bhatasara said it is not mandatory under Zimbabwe’s current constitution for NGOs "that are currently being harassed by the police to register under the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act.

He said the organizations, including GALZ, are already registered under the country’s common law.

Milton Park police on Tuesday raided the GALZ offices with the intention of arresting all workers in an effort to recover the so-called material promoting homosexuality.

The police seized computers and related material at the GALZ offices and told the workers that they will not rest until the organization is shut down.

Attorneys said they are still waiting for the state to formally press charges against the organization.

Political commentator Professor John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe said the crackdown on the homosexual community is about power and political mileage.

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Abel Chikomo, director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, was last month summoned for questioning by the police.

Chikomo was accused of operating an illegal organisation since it is not registered under the PVO Act.

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