Zimbabwe’s latest marriage amendment bill

The Bill seeks to make it effectively illegal for people of the same gender to marry.
Zimbabwe Parliament set to decide on anti-gay bill
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa (C) looks on as members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) enter to eject opposition party Members of Parliament who refused to be upstanding when he entered the chambers for Minister of Finance’s presentation of his budget statement in the Parliament of Zimbabwe November 22, 2018 in Harare. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

For Africa’s LGBTQI+ community, the year began on a promising note when Angola repealed its colonial-era, anti-gay law and also criminalized any unfair discrimination on the grounds of a person’s sexual orientation.

Now, these hopes have taken a major hit in Zimbabwe, a Bill is set to go before that country’s parliament that would uphold the ban on same-gender marriage. The Bill, which will soon be brought before parliament for deliberation, seeks to make it effectively illegal for people of the same gender to marry.

Zimbabwe is one of several nations still upholding laws that criminalize marriage and any sexual conduct between people of the same sex. Recently, the country’s Minister of the Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Priscah Mupfumira, announced that the Cabinet had approved the Marriage Amendment Bill, which, among other matters, seeks to “repeal and replace Zimbabwe’s Customary Marriages Act and merge it with the Marriage Act (Chapter 5:11) into one Act”

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Sights were set on Kenya and Botswana, whose parliaments also deliberated on their anti-gay policies in February and March respectively. Only for both to be postponed.  Kenya ruled against scrapping anti-gay laws on the 24th of May while Botswana is set to reconvene on the matter on 11th of June.

There are those who believe that laws prohibiting same-gender people from marrying have no negative implications for LGBTQI+ people, given that so many civil marriages between heterosexuals are a shambles. While it is true that many heterosexual marriages are no shining beacon of success and often result in divorce, one cannot dismiss the benefits of a legal marriage.

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It is very clear that members of Zimbabwe’s LGBTQI+ community have different reactions to the outlawing of same-gender marriage. After all, marriage is a personal matter. However, being unbothered by this ban, or not wanting to get married yourself, does not and should not dismiss the obvious homophobia that continues to inform such policies.

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