GALZ Statement on Human Rights Day

GL-3Harare ā€“ Today is Human Rights Day, once again we take time to reflect on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe as well as taking stock of our collective strategies in ensuring that human rights are respected and upheld in Zimbabwe. We believe that human rights are fundamental and inalienable human rights to which each member of society is entitled merely by virtue of their very humanity.

GALZ commends the Zimbabwe Government for its efforts to appoint a secretariat for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to enable it to start monitoring human rights in Zimbabwe as well as protecting the public against abuse of power by the state.

In Zimbabwe there can be little doubt that LGBTI people have been the objects of sustained hostility and discrimination. Such persons have been and continue to be the frequent victims of police harassment and are sometimes victims of physical abuse and violence by the public. Many gays, lesbians and transgender people have been excluded from jobs, schools, housing, churches, and even families on the basis of their sexual orientation.

We are therefore encouraged by the 2013 Constitution that expands the number of rights that are set out for enjoyment by the people in Zimbabwe. In addition to the Civil and Political rights that were outlined in the old constitution it also includes Economic, Social and Cultural rights. So now citizens get to enjoy and are able to claim against the state the Rights to Language and Culture, Right to Education, Right to Health Care and Right to Food and Water.

GALZ welcomes Section 44 of the Zimbabwe Constitution that places a duty on the state and every person (natural and juristic) to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and freedoms in the Constitution. The constitution has the potential to transform Zimbabweā€™s political and social institutions and power relationships in a more democratic, participatory and egalitarian direction if there is political will to achieve this.

We implore the Government to hasten the process of realigning laws in line with the new constitution as well as fulfilling its commitment to strengthen the rule of law as well as fostering tolerance and respect among diverse communities including its LGBTI citizens.

We urge the Government to put an end to hate speech and the making of statements that promote violence towards anyone including LGBT people as well as putting in place measures to guarantee equal access and application of the Law. Government is also urged to enter into meaningful discussions with the LGBTI community to create an enabling environment that commits people to the principles of human rights and the acceptance of diversity