Barely a month after winning a High Court battle with the police, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) scored another court victory this week, winning a case in which the organisation was facing charges of running an unregistered organisation — thereby contravening Section 6 (1) (3) of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act Chapter 17:05.
The charges levelled against GALZ chairperson Martha Tholanah emanated from a police raid by police at the GALZ offices in 2012, during which police confiscated GALZ office equipment and materials. The High Court last month ordered the police to return all property to GALZ.
It is the second case, the state claimed that Tholanah, though aware that GALZ was not registered, “unlawfully took part in the management of the organisation by gathering its members and continued to carry out activities while engaging in gays and lesbians activities” in contravention of the PVO Act.
Harare Magistrate Don Ndirowei noted that the High Court held last month that GALZ was not obliged to be registered under the Private Voluntary Organisation Act, because it is not a private voluntary organisation and is specifically exempted by Section 2 (h)(v) of that act.
In a statement, the organisation said, “GALZ welcomes the court ruling delivered today. This is yet another legal victory that vindicates GALZ’s work of representing and protecting the rights and interests of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people in Zimbabwe.”
GALZ members interviewed said this was a relief, although some were sceptical about whether this was cause for celebration.
LM of Harare said, “It means our organisation is not illegal. The fear of police raiding us over this issue has always crippled some of us. Each time we had to think twice before attending meetings. I must say this is indeed a relief.”
SN of Harare said:
“This year we have won two court cases. GALZ has always won all court cases since 1992 — the book fair era — but violations by police and raids continue as police take the law into their own hands. This should be a sign to them that no one is bigger than the law.”
“I think this time GALZ should take the officer to constitutional court, this will ensure that police learn a big lesson not to just harass intimidate us and threaten GALZ operations whenever they feel like it. There has to be compensation to the organisation for all the humiliation and pain caused to individuals.”
GALZ member PM said, “This is great news. However, when the President [Robert Mugabe] continues with homophobia, that’s not the only problem. … Organisations like GALZ get acquitted. Violence against individual LGBTI people is what still needs to be addressed.”
This victory comes at a time when the country’s nonagenarian leader continues to dish out homophobic rhetoric. During his 90th birthday celebrations last Sunday, Mugabe spewed his customary jibes against homosexuality.
“God made men and women so they can bear children. … We don’t accept homosexuality here,” he told the crowd of more than 45,000 gathered for the celebration.
- Court rules for LGBT rights group in Zimbabwe (76crimes.com)
- Zimbabwe gays group leader charged in court (africareview.com)
- Galz boss denies running unregistered organisation (newsday.co.zw)
- ZLHR encouraged by court’s decision ordering return of confiscated GALZ property (thezimbabwean.co)
- Zimbabwe’s new police powers provoke fear of more blackmail (76crimes.com)
- Tino’s story: AIDS and the perils of a double life in Zimbabwe (76crimes.com)
- In Zimbabwe, Mugabe resumes his gay-bashing (76crimes.com)
- Confronting a fearful future, some gay Zimbabweans flee (76crimes.com)