The oppressive climate of homophobia prevailing in Zimbabwe means that many lesbian and gay people suffer extreme trauma and feelings of self-doubt when trying to come to terms with their sexuality. These feelings are often compounded by real fears of being evicted from home, dismissed from work and being verbally and/or physically abused.
Many lesbian and gay people come from conservative Christian backgrounds which frequently results in them experiencing moral guilt and psychological conflict between their religious beliefs and the reality of their homosexuality.
Lesbians and gay men often suffer the stress of being forced into heterosexual marriage, into having children and leading double lives. In addition, since same-sex relationships are not usually affirmed by family and friends, these relationships may also suffer additional unnecessary strain.
So, it is not surprising that, in such a harsh homophobic climate, some members of GALZ suffer from extreme anxiety which at times can lead to severe depression, alcohol abuse and even thoughts of suicide.
Trained professional counsellors in the GALZ Health Department are skilled at providing assistance with all the above problems and more. The department also offers pre-and post-test HIV/AIDS counselling.
On rare occasions, parents and friends of lesbian and gay people approach GALZ seeking help in coming to terms with the discovery that one or more of their loved ones is lesbian or gay.
When it comes to young people, state-controlled propaganda regarding homosexuals is so intense that many Zimbabweans truly believe that the sole objective of homosexuals is to recruit children for sex. For this reason, GALZ provides services, at present, only to people who have reached the age of majority (18). Younger people seeking help from GALZ are referred to gay-friendly counsellors who either already have experience in matters relating to human sexuality or have been briefed about the issues by a GALZ counsellor.
The GALZ referral system also includes a database of gay-friendly doctors, health-care workers and clinics throughout Zimbabwe. This is an important service for, in the past, staff in clinics have been known to ridicule clients with gay-related health problems and to parade them in front of fellow workers.In addition, some LGBT people are so deeply closeted that they feel uncomfortable disclosing their sexuality even to a doctor with a proper professional attitude.
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