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Zanu-PF councilor backs gay rights

by Staff reporter
19 May 2014 at 14:35hrs | 3709 Views
Richman Rangwani, a Zanu-PF councillor for Mhondoro Ngezi, has come out in the open to champion rights of homosexuals, a move likely to spark censure from his homophobic party which advocates full enforcement of laws that criminalise same sex marriages in the southern African nation.

The controversy erupted during the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia held at the Netherlands ambassador's residence in Chisipite, where the councillor who is also a headman was a panellist.

In his presentation, Rangwani, a respected headman who presides at the court of the paramount chief, advocated human rights, love and protection towards homosexuals, a move likely to draw a backlash from his party.

Rangwani  told gays, lesbians and western diplomats on Saturday that there was nothing wrong with homosexuality, and said many people were against homosexuality because they lacked knowledge on it.

He further said as an Aids activist, he had engaged with people in Mhondoro Ngezi to try and change their perception against homosexuals.

"If we have all this information in the community where I am coming from, things will be a lot different l can tell you," Rangwani said.

"SafAids (a non-governmental organisation) came to my community and they have managed to talk to 250 or more headmen and let me tell you this, they understand.

"The problem is that the people do not have information about this matter."

Rangwani accused politicians of being hypocrites who attack gays only after elections but seek their vote in the run-up to polls.

"Finally, the political situation in Zimbabwe, they only talk about it over the media when it's after the elections, when everybody has voted," said Rangwani.

"If this other group of people do not have rights or are not people, do not call (on) them to vote. I am always telling them, no, gentlemen, we need to sit down and talk about this matter," the councillor said amid applause from homosexuals.

He vowed to continue fighting for the rights of homosexuals.

"I am saying today the International Day Against Homophobia is a milestone, wait and find out in the next two years and if God permits me to live the next five years, I would have done something personally, I am not afraid," Rangwani said.

The Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe Gera Sneller said she and other civil society groups organised the event not to antagonise the government, but to enable people to discuss about the challenges homosexuals face.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF has been protesting against any move to legalise same sex marriages in the country.

Mugabe in his Independence Day celebrations speech warned that he will chuck out all pro-gay rights diplomats.

European Union ambassador Aldo Dell'Ariccia and US ambassador Bruce Wharton attended the celebrations.

Source - dailynews
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