GALZ rose to international prominence when it attempted to enter the 1995 Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF), which had as its theme that year, ‘Human Rights and Justice’, The fair was preceded by an indaba entitled ‘Freedom of Expression and of the Press’ and took place in the last week of July and the first week of August.
It has always been GALZ’s dream that, like South Africa, a new constitution for Zimbabwe would include a clause specifically outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.The present Zimbabwean constitution, imposed upon the nation as part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 and which paved the way for Zimbabwean independence from Britain in April 1980, has, for many years, been seen by many to be inadequate to the needs of Zimbabweans.
On 11th January 1995, The Herald newspaper reported on an address by the then Minister of Home Affairs, Dumiso Dabengwa, to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) in which he asked the council to endorse the government’s position on homosexuality. The Herald quoted Dabengwa as saying that, as far as government was concerned, homosexuality was abhorrent and should not be allowed.
From the start, one of the principal aims of GALZ was to establish a drop-in centre to house the growing video, book and magazine collection that the organisation was acquiring. It was generally feared though that the police might raid any GALZ premises and confiscate literature en masse. This likelihood was confirmed when, on July 19, 1993, the police raided the offices of two prominent lesbian activists confiscating eight items, including an edition of Time Magazine (which was being sold on the streets at the time) and a family photograph.
WCC 8TH ASSEMBLY
The 8th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) held particular significance in that it took place in 1998, the 50th year after the formation of the ecumenical world body. The year 1998 was also the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
General homophobia and restrictive legislation make it difficult for LGBTI people in Zimbabwe to feel safe about being open about their sexuality in public spaces and so the community is not yet ready to march onto the streets in numbers and celebrate Pride. However, GALZ members frequently attend pride marches in South Africa, in particular Joburg Pride.