Zimbabwe Gay Activists Released Amid Allegations Of Torture
??The two gay rights activist arrested last Friday in Zimbabwe were freed from custody Thursday, the AFP reported.
The pair were arrested after police stormed the offices of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) rights group. Various computers and documents were seized by officials.
The group's 34-year-old administrator, Ellen Chadehama, and its accountant, Ignatius Mhambi, 38, have been charged with possessing pornographic materials – photographs involving gay sex – and insulting President Robert Mugabe.
Their lawyer, David Hofisi, said the pair were tortured by officials while in custody. They were made to bend their knees into a sitting position with their arms outstretched for long periods.
The two were released on bail of $200 each by Magistrate Munamate Mutevedzi Thursday. A June 10 trial date has been set.
The charge of insulting the president is in connection to a plaque found in the group's offices that features former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown denouncing Mugabe's homophobia, Hofisi said.
Mugabe's harshest criticism of gay men and lesbians came in 1995, when he told a crowd including diplomats that such people were “lower than pig or dogs.”
Earlier this year, the president rejected a call to add sexual orientation as a protected class in a constitution being drawn up under a power-sharing deal. He said gay people are “destroying” the nation and called the idea “crazy.”
At least 37 African countries currently outlaw being gay and anti-gay sentiment is common throughout the continent.