Robert Mugabe is no stranger to hateful anti-gay rhetoric.
image via (cc) flickr user governmentza
When Robert Mugabe took the rostrum this week at the United Nations General Assembly, the 91 year old president of Zimbabwe probably didn’t expect his speech to elicit the reaction it did:
It’s not that he told a joke. Just the opposite, in fact. While lambasting LGBT rights, President Mugabe, whose longstanding homophobia has been well documented, stood before the assembled dignitaries and ambassadors, and–seemingly off-scrip–shouted “We are not gays!” only to have members of ordinarily stoic governing body laugh directly in his homophobic face.
Here’s longer video of the interaction, for context:
New Now Next points out that Mugabe, who has been president of Zimbabwe since 1987, is likely referring to all of Africa in his proclamation, as he has previously claimed homosexuality is an “un-African” trait imported to his continent from Western countries.
While Mugabe’s comments may have generated laughter within the General Assembly hall itself, there’s nothing funny about the anti-gay policies he’s enacted in in his home country. There, homosexuality is expressly forbidden. People convicted of having violated “sexual deviency” laws risk fines, jail time, and worse. There are, however, those working for change within Zimbabwe. Advocacy group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has been fighting for the rights and recognition of that nation’s LGBT community since 1990.