Zimbabwe’s powerful vice president said the government will end university scholarships for young LGBTQ+ people, a move that human rights groups described Friday as Zimbabwe’s survival. African country homophobic practices.

The State University Scholarship for people between the ages of 18 and 35 is sponsored by GALZ, a membership organization for LGBTQ+ people in Zimbabwe. The association began offering it in 2018 without incident. But a recent online advertisement inviting applications drew a strong response from Vice President Constantino Chiunga, a self-proclaimed Catholic and former military commander.

In a strongly worded statement on Thursday night, Chiunga claimed the scholarship was a “direct challenge” to the government’s authority.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines maintains gay ban.

“Our schools and institutions of higher learning shall not entertain applicants, enroll persons of alien, anti-life, un-African and un-Christian values, which are being promoted and nurtured, and At the same time it is being practiced in degenerate societies with which we have no moral or cultural affiliation,” he said.

GALZ has previously stated that the scholarship seeks to provide equal access to state universities for LGBTQ+ people who are often ostracized by their families and struggle to pay for higher education. He did not comment on the vice president’s statement.

However, the coalition of human rights groups to which GALZ belongs said it showed that sexual and gender minorities in Zimbabwe are at risk.

“We are deeply concerned about the statement from the second highest office in the land because it shows intolerance, especially considering that the advertisement,” said Wilbert Mendende, program coordinator for the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum. It gives many opportunities to the youth.” , told Associated Press on Friday.

Constantino Chiunga

Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiunga attends the opening of the tobacco season March 8, 2023 in Harare, Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Tsvangirai Mukwazi, File)

Like many African countries, Zimbabwe has laws criminalizing homosexual activity. Sex between men is punishable by up to a year in prison, and the country’s constitution bans same-sex marriage.

Chiwenga said Zimbabwe’s anti-gay laws “predicate any (scholarship) offers on the same offense as both illegal and criminal, and on our national values ​​and morals as a Christian nation.” It is a serious and serious insult.”

The government “will not hesitate to take appropriate measures to enforce national laws,” he said, adding that youth should “never be tempted to trade or sell their lives for such abominable and monstrous offers.” Shouldn’t come.”

Zimbabwe has a history of discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people. Former president Robert Mugabe, who ruled the southern African country for 37 years, once described them as “worse than dogs and pigs” and deprived of legal rights.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power after a 2017 coup led by Chiwenga while still an army general, has been less vocal in his anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in public. But Chiyonga’s threat to ban scholarships highlights continued hostility from authorities and sections of society, including influential religious groups.

In December, Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops, like many of their African counterparts, warned against Pope Francis The declaration allows priests to offer blessings to same-sex couples, citing “the law of the land, our culture and moral reasons.”

Zimbabwe has in the past banned public acts that might appear to condone homosexuality.

In 2021, a planned visit by a gay South African celebrity, Somizi Mhlungo, to reopen a trendy Zimbabwean restaurant drew an appearance from a Christian sect and members of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s youth wing. was canceled after the determination to stop.

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