The two gay rights activist arrested
last Friday in Zimbabwe were freed from custody Thursday, the AFP
The pair were arrested after police
stormed the offices of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)
rights group. Various computers and documents were seized by
The group's 34-year-old administrator,
Ellen Chadehama, and its accountant, Ignatius Mhambi, 38, have been
charged with possessing pornographic materials – photographs
involving gay sex – and insulting President Robert Mugabe.
Their lawyer, David Hofisi, said the
pair were tortured by officials while in custody. They were made to
bend their knees into a sitting position with their arms outstretched
for long periods.
The two were released on bail of $200
each by Magistrate Munamate Mutevedzi Thursday. A June 10 trial date
has been set.
The charge of insulting the president
is in connection to a plaque found in the group's offices that
features former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown denouncing
Mugabe's homophobia, Hofisi said.
Mugabe's harshest criticism of gay men
and lesbians came in 1995, when he told a crowd including diplomats
that such people were “lower than pig or dogs.”
Earlier this year, the
president rejected a call to add sexual orientation as a protected
class in a constitution being drawn up under a power-sharing deal.
He said gay people are “destroying” the nation and called the
At least 37 African countries currently
outlaw being gay and anti-gay sentiment is common throughout the
Last week, two
men in Malawi were sentenced to a harsh 14-years of hard labor for
participating in a symbolic engagement ceremony in December.