Report on Discrimination against Women in Zimbabwe Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Executive Summary

Lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) people living in Zimbabwe are confronted by systemic discrimination on a daily basis by the patriarchal hegemony that prevails within communities and primarily instituted by the State.

This degree of State power creates a culture of fear, hatred and exclusion. The consequences for LGBT communities are multiple and severe. Some of these consequences include extreme forms of poverty, denial of access to government services such as health and safety. The continued attacks on the bodies of Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transwomen and Transmen are experienced as a daily struggle for survival. There is limited space to exercise any form of expression pertaining to sexuality. Our desire to live without fear and to freely move in spaces with an assertive form of agency and to live in a society that appreciates and respects human rights is a goal we are fighting to achieve.

Irrespective of our sexual orientation women in Zimbabwe are not free to live and challenge collective norms and values subjectively based on the power-constructions of male-domination, political interference and the rise of religious fundamentalism. Women have been forced to carry out assigned roles and responsibilities and any deviation from these stereotypes results in the vilification and isolation from one's family, community and public life at large.

The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) recently made a submission to the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee of Zimbabwe (COPAC). The 25 member panel is tasked with developing, designing and recommending a draft/new constitution. GALZ took part in the public participation process and has lobbied the committee to take a serious stand on the rights of marginalised people in Zimbabwe, particularly Lesbians, Gays, Transmen and Transwomen and not miss the opportunity to include sexual orientation in its new constitution. The submission titles, "Sexual Orientation and Zimbabwe's Constitution -- A Case for Inclusion" clearly states that the Constitution should respect the rights of LGBT Zimbabweans must be included in the constitution. The report covers cases of violations experienced by LBT people in Harare and Bulawayo. Most cases are linked to public participation of LBT people in national and international processes such as 16 Days of Activism and the Constitutional Reform Process. The report also highlights challenges related to discrimination of LBT people and how these impact on establishing a family, accessing education and health for LBT people as stated in articles 1, 5, 12 and 16.

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