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Zimbabwe charges gay activist over meeting

14 March 2014, 06:50

Harare - Zimbabwe police arrested and charged a gay activist and questioned another for holding an illegal meeting, a rights group said on Wednesday.

"We confirm police arrested Natasha Dowell, a volunteer with the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and an activist Tawanda Maguze at a hotel in the Avenues area yesterday," Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesperson for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, told AFP.

Mafunda said Dowell was charged with breaching the public order and security law, which requires organisations to give police advance warning of public meetings, and then released.

Maguze was questioned and released without charge.

The arrests came nearly two weeks after President Robert Mugabe publicly supported Uganda's draconian anti-gay laws and hinted at a crackdown on gays in his own country.

Mugabe, who has called gays "worse than pigs and dogs", castigated the West for punishing Kampala with aid cuts after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that banned homosexuality in the east African country.

In Zimbabwe same-sex marriages are outlawed.

The Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) has long operated in the country despite Mugabe's stance on homosexuality.

Police in 2012 raided the Galz offices accusing the association of operating an unregistered organisation.

A magistrate dismissed that charge last month, saying the law did not require the association to register.



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