Police raids Zimbabwe gay organisation's office

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Misanet.com / The Standard, 26 March - Keith Goddard, the programme manager of Gays and Lesbian Association of Zimbabwe (Galz), has dismissed claims by the police that they recovered pornographic material when they raided the organisation's Matabeleland offices in the town of Bulawayo.

Instead, Goddard told The Standard last week that the police only managed to confiscate a pin-up poster from a well known South African magazine. Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, was reported last week as saying police had carried out a successful raid on the Galz offices where they recovered two pornographic magazines and arrested a suspect who was facing charges under the Censorship and Entertainment Act. 

But Bvudzijena could not link the house to any homosexual activities saying the police had not recovered anything to say conclusively that the house was a centre for homosexuals. "We need corroborative evidence before we can take any action," Bvudzijena said.

The offices are contained in a house in Bulawayo's Bellevue Suburbs, which hit the headlines recently when Pauline Moyo, a 36-year-old widow, made revelations that her 16-year-old son was gay. Moyo said her son, a Form Four student at a local high school, had confessed to her about the alleged homosexual activities taking place at the house.

The boy is alleged to have told his mother that he had been recruited into the organisation by someone whom he met outside the house on his way from school. It is also alleged that the house was running a brothel for homosexuals linking them with would-be clients from outside Matabeleland.

The police had been monitoring activities at the house since these revelations. In an interview with The Standard, Goddard, who dismissed reports of the raid, said the police did not search the offices but instead went to the groundsman's cabin and removed a pin-up poster from his bedroom.

They proceeded to arrest the groundsman who was later released after paying a fine of Z$300. "When they entered our offices what seemed to interest them was a copy of the Human Rights Report form," said Goddard. The Human Rights Report form, Goddard said, was issued to the organisation by the Human Rights Watch to highlight incidents of harrassment of its members by the police.

- We had not made any entries on the form and I am surprised why they decided to take it with them, Goddard said. "Not that we are not keeping records of our members being harassed. We have other means of filing such incidents." Goddard dismissed allegations of selling school children and operating a brothel at the house as "wild exaggerations" coming out of a society that is homophobic and bent at tarnishing the image of gay people.

- We will never be accepted in this country, said Goddard. "People only want to classify us as inhuman members of the society. We are not closing our offices."

The Standard (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe).

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