Opposition MPs who labelled fellow legislator Psychology Maziwisa a "homosexual" during a question-and-answer session yesterday (15 March) are to be investigated, the Zimbabwean parliament has announced.
Zimbabwe is one of the least accepting countries in the world for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex or questioning (LGBTIQ). Under the nation's 2006 criminal code, homosexuality is a crime. The revised law expands the penalty for sodomy to include acts such as two men holding hands, hugging or kissing, and can carry an extended prison term.
During a parliamentary session, MDC-T opposition party MP for Musikavanhu, Prosper Mutseyami, allegedly accused Maziwisa, who is Highfield West MP for the ruling Zanu PF party, of being gay during an inaudible comment, according to Zim News.
However, Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba told the House he had heard Mutseyami say so.
"On a point of order, when Hon Maziwisa was speaking, the members on the left were saying that Maziwisa is gay," Chinotimba, who is Zanu-PF, is reported as saying. "It was Hon Mutseyami, and we want him to withdraw that statement."
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda said the House should "avoid name-calling which is unsubstantiated", before also demanding Mutseyami withdrew his statement.
Mutseyami, meanwhile, denied labelling Maziwisa homosexual and requested that audio and video recordings of the session be replayed to find out which MP had made the allegations.
"I have never bedded Honourable Maziwisa and have no proof to allegations that he is gay," said Mutseyami, adding that the matter should be investigated.
Known for his brutal crusades against homosexuality, President Robert Mugabe has made a number of homophobic statements over the years. Despite calls from the UN, the southern African nation remains silent on specific rights of the LGBTIQ community.