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Zimbabwe’s Tsvangirai MDC Denies Tabling Gay Rights Bid

The Herald newspaper reported Monday that COPAC had thrown out a bid by the MDC formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai to smuggle homosexuality into the new constitution under the guise of protecting minority rights.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has dismissed as propaganda state media reports that it tried to smuggle decriminalization of homosexuality into the new constitution being drafted under the guise of protecting minority rights.

Constitution Select Committee co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the Tsvangirai MDC said Monday the parliamentary body and experts met only to set constitutional principles for the drafting process last week.

He said it was at this meeting that he brought up the question of minority rights but the issue of gay rights was never discussed.

“I and Jessie Majome (select committee spokesperson) raised the issue of minority rights - and minority groups in this country mean cultural minorities, ethnic minorities and religious minorities, and we even have political minorities," Mwonzora said.

"That’s all we meant. We are surprised that the ZANU-PF propaganda machinery wants to belittle the rights of the minority by trying to say these are gay rights."

According to Mwonzora, data compiled from the outreach program shows that some people are in full support of gay rights and advocating for freedom of choice while others oppose the issue.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe has consistently denounced homosexuality as un-African and unChristian.

Last year Prime Minister Tsvangirai supported Mugabe's position, but appeared to backtrack last month saying he hoped "the new constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody."

Gays and Lesbian Association of Zimbabwe Director Chesterfield Shamba said his organization is advocating for the right to non-discrimination, privacy and equality.

“We are concerned that already there seems to be a push from certain political parties to make sure that at the end of the day it’s their positions that really come out strongly and not the position of what was actually said during the (outreach) process,” Shamba said.