Zimbabwe leaders deny new constitution permits homosexual acts

[JURIST] Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] agreed at belated International Women's Day Celebrations on Friday that gay rights should not be constitutionally protected [AFP report]. While Zimbabwean "sexual deviancy" laws prohibit homosexual acts, some lawmakers have suggested that drafts of Zimbabwe's new constitution [JURIST report] decriminalize homosexual acts. Tsvangirai and Mugabe rejected [BBC report] such proposals, stating that the current law serves to promote unions between men and women. The leaders' agreement signaled a rare alignment of opinion in what has become a contentious power-sharing arrangement.

Last year, the Zimbabwean parliament formed a committee to draft a new constitution as part of the power-sharing agreement [JURIST reports] between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. It was hoped that a draft of the new constitution would be completed by this February [Mail and Guardian report] so that it could be decided upon via referendum in July and adopted by the end of the year. Zimbabwe last attempted a constitutional referendum in 2000, though it was rejected due to concerns about the extent of power that would be given to Mugabe. Once the constitution is ratified, Tsvangirai targets 2011 for a presidential election.

 

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