MUGABE GAY RANT ANGERS DONORS

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s tough stance against gays and lesbians has set him on a collision course with 12 out of 30 United Nations agencies which have denounced his pronouncements, NewsDay has learnt.

The UN agencies have already signed a statement condemning member states still discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation.

The agencies which include the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids), United Nations Women, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Health Organisation, United Nations Fund for Population Activities and World Food Programme are ironically the country’s leading humanitarian aid providers.

Part of the statement read: “While welcoming increasing efforts in many countries to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, The UN agencies have already signed a statement condemning member states still discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation.
The agencies which include the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids), United Nations Women, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Health Organisation, United Nations Fund for Population Activities and World Food Programme are ironically the country’s leading humanitarian aid providers.

Part of the statement read: “While welcoming increasing efforts in many countries to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, we remain seriously concerned that around the world, millions of LGBTI individuals, those perceived as LGBTI and their families face widespread human rights violations. This is cause for alarm – and action.”

This comes as former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is seeking nomination for the US Presidency last Saturday vowed to face Mugabe head-on over the issue.

“I’m guessing that the LGBT activists in prison in Zimbabwe would disagree with him if ever given a chance to have a platform,” she said, effectively turning the matter into a campaign trump card.

Mugabe, who has at any given opportunity both at home and abroad attacked homosexuals describing them as “worse than dogs and pigs”, repeated his anti-gay mantra at the just-ended UN General Assembly in New York, accusing them of not conforming to the country’s cultural dictates and norms.

In a widely reported rant, the Zimbabwean leader declared: “We are not gays.We equally reject attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions, and beliefs.”

Mugabe’s statement immediately cast a dark shadow over preparations for the International Conference on Aids and STI’s in Africa conference scheduled for Harare next month with members of the gay community already unsure of their security at the conference.

The remarks are also likely to negatively affect mobilisation of food aid by UN donor agencies to fight widespread hunger already stoking most parts of the country amid reports of another looming El-nino-induced drought this coming summer season.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki- moon has also rallied member States to urgently end violence and discrimination against marginalised groups such as LGBTI, saying a breach of such international human rights laws could have a far-reaching impact on society.

“I strongly support equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people everywhere. I speak out against the appallingly high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence people suffer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said. “That is why the United Nations actively works to tackle homophobia and transphobia around the world. It may be tough, but that will never stop us from pressing ahead. We cannot back off from human rights protection just because governments differ on certain issues.”

The UN statement calls on member states to respect international human rights standards, including by reviewing, repealing and establishing a moratorium on the application of laws that criminalise same-sex conduct between consenting adults.

The persecution of homosexuals has often caused them to be left behind in some crucial programmes including HIV and Aids intervention measures.

A recent report by UNAids showed that LGBTI people face widespread discrimination and exclusion. “We know from experience and evidence that violence and discrimination hold back the HIV response. The result: people are left behind,” UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe said. newsday

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