Zimbabwe Gay Rights Activists Allegedly Arrested While Preparing Report Into Violations
Zimbabwe police allegedly arrested 44 members of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) organization who were reportedly preparing to launch a report on violations against gay and lesbian people in the country.
Around 15 anti-riot police officers stormed a meeting at the organization's offices, according to a statement released by Galz.
"Galz deplores the arrest of its 44 members who had attended the launch of the Galz Violations Report and a briefing on the second draft of the Zimbabwe constitution on 11 August 2012 at the Galz offices," the organization said in a statement.
"Four police officers attempted to gain entry into the premises before calling for back up where about fifteen (anti) riot squad members descended on the office and effected arrest. Thirty one men and thirteen women members were detained overnight at Harare Central Police Station on 11 August 2012," it added.
The gay rights organization claims that police committed numerous violations while arresting members, including using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fits.
"Such use of force is in direct contradiction to the Global Political Agreement," Galz added.
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"Galz does not condone violence and we are not a threat. Those who cause violence are a threat to public safety and security and we ask that they stay away from our premises," it concluded.
However, Zimbabwean police have denied any arrests even took place, and insisted some were only taken for "screening" and were later released.
"They were only taken for screening. We had received information that people we were looking for were there. So it's false to say they were arrested and that they slept in the cells," said Harare Chief Inspector James Sabau, according to Zimbabwe publication News Day.
The incident comes a month after Galz was charged with breaking a law that makes it illegal to undermine the office of President Mugabe. In Zimbabwe gay sexual activity, which is labeled as sodomy, is illegal.