Zimbabwe’s president dismisses gay rights

May 24, 2012, 5:39 PM

Associated Press

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – Zimbabwe’s president said Thursday that homosexuality doesn’t belong in Zimbabwe and it violates women’s rights by denying the union of men and women needed to bear children.

Robert Mugabe, 88, speaking at a women’s HIV/Aids and gender rights conference in Harare, said the “gay world” goes against nature.

After earlier remarks by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay referring to the criminalization of homosexuality in some countries, Mugabe said Zimbabwe and Africa won’t recognize same-sex marriage because it leads to human “extinction.”

He said male homosexuality took away women’s traditional rights of being mothers.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, who has repeatedly described same-sex partners as “lower than dogs and pigs,” has vowed not to allow gay rights to be included in a new constitution being drafted.

“Mothers were given the talent to bear children. That talent doesn’t belong to men,” he said.

“When God created Adam … if Adam had desired a person like him it would not have made him any happier,” Mugabe said.

“When a man says he wants to get married to another man, we in Zimbabwe don’t accept it. We can’t talk of women’s rights at all if we go in that direction. It will lead to extinction,” he said.

On demands for women’s equality, Mugabe said he doubted women will get equal representation as lawmakers in Zimbabwe.

“Our customs look down on women as inferior. Men pay cattle and money to get a wife and expect women to obey them. Women will surely lose. Men say that women are not as knowledgeable as us. The attitude of men still despises women,” he said.

Pillay told Thursday’s GlobalPower Women Network Africa meeting on women’s rights that decisive leadership was needed to craft fair laws and policies on property rights for widows, early marriages, sexual violence, marital rape, homosexuality and commercial sex work.

She arrived Sunday to assess human rights in Zimbabwe. It is the first visit of a UN human rights chief to the troubled southern African nation.

Thursday’s women’s rights meeting coincided with the release of Amnesty International’s annual global rights report.

The report cited one of its concerns over the past year as “worsening discrimination in Africa over people’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

It said in October that two allegedly gay men were arrested in Harare after being assaulted by Zimbabwean mobs. Mugabe’s party militants then repeatedly threatened violence against the men’s lawyers when a court cleared them of engaging in homosexuality.

Amnesty also said Thursday that police in Zimbabwe have continued to harass, intimidate and assault perceived opponents of Mugabe’s ZANU PF party.

It said in the past year “security elements” had arrested senior politicians aligned to the former opposition in the nation’s three-year coalition government and disrupted their political activities.

Human rights defenders were also arrested, detained and tortured, Amnesty said.

Mugabe’s party has denied the existence of state-sponsored political violence in meetings with Pillay.

She ends her weeklong visit Friday.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Zimbabwe’s president dismisses gay rights