Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
CHURCHES have vowed to mobilise their followers countrywide to vote against the draft Constitution at the referendum if the document does not outlaw homosexuality and same-sex marriages.
This follows revelations by Copac co-chairperson Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana that Copac deliberately left the draft vague on homosexuality after failing to agree on whether or not to outlaw it.
Cde Mangwana’s sentiments were echoed by MDC-T policy director Mr Eddie Cross who confirmed his party’s pro-gay stance during a discussion on Star FM on Wednesday night.
“As a party, we are not prepared to criminalise homosexuality because we think 10 percent of our population have homosexual tendencies,” Mr Cross said adding, “We think that criminalisation of personal practices and preference is a violation of human rights.
“We fundamentally differ with Zanu-PF because they want to criminalise homosexuality.”
Mr Cross confirmed his party’s intention to make the Constitution remain silent on homosexuality.
Ironically, the National Statistical Report, that contains the views of the people, says 76 percent of Zimbabweans want homosexuality outlawed.
However, Copac — which tried, but failed — to smuggle homosexuality into the draft through phrases such as ‘‘natural differences’’, chose to give gay rights silent treatment, a development legal experts say is open to manipulation should the Gays And Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe approach the courts for same-sex
Church leaders said they backed Zanu-PF’s amendments to the draft.
In its proposed amendments, Zanu-PF wants clause 4.35 that covers Marriage Rights to include two new sections (4) and (5) to read as follows: “(4) Same-sex marriages are prohibited; and ‘‘(5) Homosexuality, gays and lesbian practices are prohibited’’.
The churches say the proposed new Constitution should clarify that Zimbabwe does not condone homosexuality.
“As the church, we have never been for homosexuality and we want it clarified in the draft Constitution that it is outlawed,” said Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president and spokesperson Dr Goodwill Shana.
“The current draft doesn’t have a provision where homosexuality is outlawed. We want it amended.”
Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe leader Bishop Trevor Manhanga, said churches would mobilise people to vote against the draft at the referendum if the amendment was not effected.
“If they don’t clarify in the Constitution that homosexuality is outlawed, then we won’t vote for it and we will mobilise our people to vote NO. We applaud Zanu-PF for coming up with amendments in line with what the people said. We don’t want a situation where people will go to the court because the law is silent.
“It is better that we answer that question in the beginning than to have people flooding our courts,” Bishop Manhanga said.
Bishop Joshua Chiwenda of Revival Ministries International said: “If they want to bring a draft without those amendments then the church will campaign for a NO vote.
“There is no negotiation on that matter because homosexuality is an abomination before God and our culture.
“We want the amendments by Zanu-PF on homosexuality to be incorporated in the draft Constitution. We want it to be clearly outlined that homosexuality is outlawed.
“It must be outlined that according to the Word of God and culture, homosexuality is outlawed. These things are being peddled by the New World Order because they are fighting God,” Bishop Manhanga said.
Pastor Alwyn Bizure of Adonai Ministries said: “We want the draft Constitution to clearly spell out that homosexuality is outlawed.”
“If anyone commits the crime, then those people should be sentenced to life imprisonment.”
The Constitution-making process has been referred to the Principals of the Global Political Agreement who are now seized with the process.
The MDC formations have, however, endorsed the Copac draft with MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai announcing that they will soon launch a “Yes” campaign.