The resignation of Robert Mugabe was received with much jubilation by Bridging the Gaps partners in Zimbabwe. Since 1995, organisations like our partner Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) have been on the receiving end of the brutality and hate of Mugabe’s aversion to diversity.
Homophobia and transphobia
In many cases, the state had been an active sponsor of homophobia and transphobia in Zimbabwe by subjecting individuals suspected of being LGBTIQ to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. In general, Zimbabweans still suffer the basic humiliations of oppressive laws, social stigma and propaganda spewed out by national and religious leaders. Never again should people live in fear and be treated as second class citizens in their own country.
Push for further change
In this spirit, Bridging the Gaps partners GALZ, Pakasipiti and the Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) have been finalising their 2017 activities. They are now planning to push for further change that will make lives for LGBTIQ Zimbabweans better. The LGBTIQ movement in Zimbabwe realises that there is still a long way to go, but also that change is possible and the future is bright. To make sure that Zimbabwe will be able to make these changes, Bridging the Gaps partners in Zimbabwe are now growing the leaders of tomorrow and are reaching out to new activists in smaller towns and rural areas. They are uniting the joint struggles of lesbian women, gay men, bisexual men and women, transgender people and intersex people. The movement in Zimbabwe has proven to be resilient: it is still standing after years and years of hatred, attack and exclusion.
Promotion of diversity
Within the LGBTIQ community, gay and bisexual men have been most visible and have specific interventions targeted at mobilising them and linking them to care. With this in mind, partners have also been promoting active participation of lesbian and bisexual women and trans men through Bridging the Gaps interventions. Their visibility is still low and efforts are being made to reach out to more diverse groups. Promotion of diversity within the partner organisations themselves is also important: GALZ welcomed a new member of staff who identifies as a trans man, and a trans woman was elected on the GALZ board during the Annual General Meeting. GALZ and COC, both membership organisations of LGBTIQ people in their respective countries, have successfully been exchanging strategies and experiences.
A year of hope
2018 is a year of hope: with a stronger movement as a basis, it will be time to slowly but surely make Zimbabwe a better place for all, including LGBTIQ people.