Statement on incident involving GALZ members in Zimbabwe

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance today expressed extreme concern at reports that members of its partner organisation in Zimbabwe, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), were reportedly attacked and injured at a private event on Friday.

GALZ is a membership-based organisation serving the needs and interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Zimbabwe, pushing for social tolerance of sexual minorities.  It is thought that some 35 GALZ members needed medical treatment  following the attack.

The rise in violence against vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, including against the LGBTI community and women, has negative implications for human rights, health and HIV in the country. The adverse legal environment, where most at risk groups face living in a climate of fear and are criminalised for their behaviour, not only makes them a target for harassment and violence but also creates a vacuum when it comes to the provision of healthcare and support services for all minority groups.

Gavin Reid, the Alliance’s Regional Advisor on Men's Sexual Health & Rights for East and Southern Africa said: “The International HIV/AIDS Alliance calls upon the Zimbabwean police to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.  It’s the duty of the Zimbabwean government to protect and promote the rights of all its citizens and to ensure that all Zimbabweans are able to enjoy their full constitutional rights including the right to life, to personal security, to freedom of assembly and association, and to freedom from torture.”

Since 2012, GALZ has been a partner in SHARP – a Men’s Sexual Health and Rights Programme being implemented by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and its implementing partners in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The programme aims to effectively reduce the spread and impact of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) and to build healthy MSM communities in the region.