COPAC has thrown out MDC-T’s bid to smuggle homosexuality into the new constitution under the guise of protecting minority rights.
Sources who attended a Select Committee meeting last week accused MDC-T’s Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora and spokesperson Jessie Majome of seeking to have gay rights included under the guise of minority rights.
The sources said there was heated debate over the issue.
“When they raised the issue, we asked them to define who should be covered by minority rights and they started mumbling and they said the Ndebeles and the Venda,” said a source.
“We then told them that these were people whose interests were covered under individual rights.
“Some MDC-T members in Copac had already tipped us that the agenda was to incorporate gay rights, so when it was raised we rejected it right away.”
Said another source: “They had duped Edward Mkhosi (MDC co-chairperson) to make him believe that the agenda was to push for the minority groups and when we told him the plan he then supported us.
“Even some of their members in Copac like (Gift) Chimanikire and Senator (Rorana) Muchihwa joined us and said they would not support homosexuality.”
Mkhosi said that it was possible for some Copac members to bring issues under disguise.
“The challenge we have is that some people may bring thematic issues under disguise and sometimes no one can suspect that there is an ulterior motive,” he said.
“As for me, I will never subscribe to homosexuality because it’s un-cultural. We can’t have men marrying other men. I am totally opposed to gays.”
But Mwonzora dismissed the accusation as “extremely defamatory, unfortunate and daft by our accusers”
“We believe the constitution must provide the rights of the minority and in that case we meant minority ethnic groups like the Nambya, Shangaanis, the Sotho, Venda and the other minority groups like the whites and the Asian community,” he said.
“Unless you mean that these groups are gays because to us minorities doesn’t refer to gay people and we all know who the minorities are.
Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Zanu-PF) said it was not proper for him to comment on issues that were still under discussion.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai recently said he wanted gay rights to be enshrined in the new constitution.
He told a BBC programme last month that being gay was a ‘human right’ that needed to be protected by the new constitution.
Barely a week later British premier David Cameron announced that his government would withhold aid to countries and organisations that did not embrace homosexuality, a development that led analysts to say Tsvangirai, whose party is funded from the West, was singing for his supper on BBC.
Under the Bill of Rights section in their position paper, MDC-T advocates for gay rights to be included in the constitution.
“In addition, the right to freedom from discrimination, given our history of discrimination and intolerance, must be broad to include the protection of personal preferences, that is gays and lesbians should be protected by the constitution,” it says.
By contrast, Zanu-PF’s talking points include the following:
“We should not allow same-sex marriages as this is taboo in African culture and traditions.
“The Bible also forbids same-sex marriages. The constitution should specifically outlaw homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy.”
Homosexuality is a sensitive subject in many African countries which reject it either through laws or general public disgust.