Earlier this week, more than 20 Zimbabwean police officers raided the office of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), claiming they were looking for undisclosed “data.” This was the latest in a series of police crackdowns on the LGBT organization, which have included unwarranted arrests and beatings. On at least one occasion, police officers were visibly drunk as they assaulted the activists. Today, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State issued an official condemnation of the raids:
The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe’s violent arrest and detention of 44 members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe on August 11 and a second raid by police on August 20. Several of these members sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and were detained without charges. The Government of Zimbabwe has also targeted these same members’ homes and singled out their families for interrogation and harassment.
The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society, including LGBT activists. We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights. We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to end this pattern of abuse and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the Zimbabwean people.
Zimbabwean officials have promised that the country will maintain laws banning homosexuality. Last November, President Robert Mugabe warned that gays and lesbians would be “punished severely” if discovered, calling the suggestion of gay rights “diabolical” and a “stupid offer.”