Commonwealth must not legitimise Zimbabwe’s homophobia

Without reform homophobic persecution will be viewed as legitimate and acceptable


London, UK – 31 July 2018


“The Commonwealth must insist on LGBT+ and human rights reform if Zimbabwe is to be readmitted to membership. The new Zimbabwe government is expected to apply for readmittance. Mugabe withdrew in 2003 after criticisms of his regime’s election corruption and human rights abuses. Reform must be a prerequisite for rejoining the Commonwealth.”

This call comes from veteran LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell who twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe.

He has written to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, urging the organisation to insist that Zimbabwe conforms to the democratic and human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter, as a condition of re-admittance.

In the letter (full text below), Mr Tatchell said:

“36 member states of the Commonwealth, including Zimbabwe, currently outlaw homosexuality. They criminalise around one fifth of the world’s LGBT+ population.

“During Mugabe’s notoriously intolerant rule, Zimbabwean LGBTs have faced extortion, arrest and even physical torture. Sadly, amending such laws doesn’t seem like a priority for any of the current party leaders.

“Readmitting Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth while it continues to penalise LGBT+ citizens would send the wrong signal: that homophobic persecution is legitimate and acceptable.

“The Commonwealth is a club and clubs impose rules on new or rejoining members. It is on record as saying Zimbabwe rejoining would be a ‘momentous occasion.’ Indeed, it would. But it has to be on the basis of the country’s full alignment with the Commonwealth’s democratic and human rights principles,” said Mr Tatchell.

READ Peter’s Letter