- May 21, 2014
Post submitted by Tushar. HRC Global Engagement Fellow
In a change of narrative in Zimbabwe, a leading politician from the ruling party has come out in support of its LGBT citizens. Richman Rangwani, a councilor with the Zanu-PF party, addressed a gathering at the Dutch embassy in Zimbabwe's capital city during an event commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17th.
Criticizing the country and its policymakers’ lack of knowledge about homosexuality, stated that politicians “only talk about it over the media when it's after the elections, when everybody has voted,” as reported by Bulawayo 24. Considering President Robert Mugabe’s constant slew of hate speech against LGBTI people and his party’s protests against any kind of movement towards decriminalization of same-sex activity, Rangwani’s statements have raised controversy in the country.
An AIDS activist and a traditional elder (local community leader), Rangwani has been engaged in changing the mindsets of other elders and their communities regarding homosexuality, and vowed to continue working for the rights of the LGBT community. He also emphasized the urgency of talking about such issues within political establishments. In light of the extreme laws against homosexuality that passed in Uganda and Nigeria earlier this year, this is a positive development for the Zimbabwean LGBT community.