Zimbabwe: Gay rights activists arrested in Harare

Arrests took place during media training course at hotel

Two gay rights activists were arrested at a Harare, Zimbabwe, hotel where advocacy group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) were holding a media training course, Pink News reports.

While Natasha Dowell was charged under the Public Order and Security Act, Tawanda Muguze was released without charge.

More than a dozen other course participants were interviewed by police and later released.

The country’s president, Robert Mugabe, known for his vitriolic, anti-gay statements, has described homosexuality as un-African and called gay people worse than pigs and dogs.

He recently claimed he wasn’t aware that there is an LGBT advocacy group in Zimbabwe.

GALZ, which has been subject to a number of police raids, was recently charged with operating an unregistered group, but the case was dismissed.

Mugabe has come out in support of Uganda’s anti-gay law and criticized Western countries for withdrawing or redirecting aid from the African country.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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