44 gay rights activists held in Zim

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iol pic wld gay pride3455 REUTERS File photo - Revellers run with a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade in Mexico City.

Harare -

Police in Zimbabwe detained 44 gay rights activists during a raid on the headquarters of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) association in Harare on the weekend, the group said on Monday.

The police raid on Saturday came as activists were preparing for the launch of a report on abuses against gays and lesbians in the country, where homosexuality is outlawed and President Robert Mugabe has referred to gays as being “worse than dogs and pigs.”

“Police, some of them visibly drunk, assaulted most of the members using baton sticks,” GALZ said in a statement, adding that some of the activists were punched and kicked.

The 44 were taken to Harare central police station where they were held before being released without charge on Sunday.

“GALZ does not condone violence and we are not a threat,” said the statement. “Those who cause violence are a threat to public safety and security and we ask that they stay away from our premises.”

Police spokesman James Sabau denied that the group had been arrested and said that they had been taken to the police station for “screening.”

Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has rejected calls for the new constitution currently under debate to guarantee gay rights. - Sapa-dpa


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