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  BLACKLINES

World News
by REX WOCKNER
2003-04-01

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TANZANIANS MARCH AGAINST GAYS

About 300 Muslims marched against a planned visit by 100 American gay tourists in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, March 14.

They said homosexuality is immoral and those who practice it should be put to death.

'Homosexuality is foreign to Africa and it is totally against the teachings of Islam outlined in the Holy Koran,' Sheikh Mussa Kileo told the crowd.

The protest was organized by the Council of Muslim Clerics.

According to local reports, the unnamed gay tour group postponed its visit in response to the hostilities.

BUSH PUNISHES MUGABE

George W. Bush slapped sanctions on virulently homophobic Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe March 7.

He froze Mugabe's U.S. assets and those of 76 other Zimbabwean officials, and forbade Americans from having business dealings with Zimbabwean leaders.

'Over the course of more than two years, the government of Zimbabwe has systematically undermined that nation's democratic institutions, employing violence, intimidation and repressive means including legislation to stifle opposition to its rule,' Bush said.

'To add to the desperation of the besieged Zimbabwean people, the current government has engaged in a violent assault on the rule of law that has thrown the economy into chaos, devastated the nation's agricultural economy and triggered a potentially catastrophic food crisis.'

The European Union has imposed similar sanctions.

Mugabe has said of gays: 'What an abomination, a rottenness of culture, real decadence of culture. [Homosexuals are] repugnant to my human conscience ... immoral and repulsive. ... Animals in the jungle are better than these people because at least they know that this is a man or a woman. ... I don't believe they have any rights at all.'

Activists say organized anti-gay violence is common.

'Victimization of the gay community is universal and constant in Zimbabwe,' said leading British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who has long campaigned against Mugabe. 'No one is safe.'

Gay and human-rights activists repeatedly zapped vociferously anti-gay Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Feb. 19 and 20, calling him a murderer and demanding he be arrested for torture. As the Franco-African summit opened in Paris, the protesters blasted fog horns and threw paint at the Zimbabwean Embassy. They also staged demonstrations outside Mugabe's hotel and at the Ministry of Justice and the Palace of Justice.

The protesters came from ACT UP, the Pink Panthers and the Movement for Democratic Change. Several people were arrested, including well-known British gay activist Peter Tatchell.

Tatchell, who has had several high-profile run-ins with Mugabe over the years, was grabbed by police Feb. 20 outside a Metro station en route to the protesters' fifth action, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

'We were bundled into a police van and taken into 'preventive detention' at a nearby police station,' Tatchell said. 'I was told by the senior arresting officer that the interior minister had ordered the arrest of all protesters. We were held by the police for nearly two hours, until Mugabe left the Foreign Ministry. On our release, we were trailed by police cars and plainclothes officers. We were hunted like rats through the streets of Paris.

'It seems that the whole apparatus of the French state is organized to protect a human-rights abuser such as Mugabe and quash peaceful protesters like ourselves,' Tatchell said.

S.A. ACTIVISTS THREATEN TO FILL JAILS

Activists from South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said Feb. 21 they will fill the nation's jails and prisons via civil disobedience if the government does not agree by March 21 to freely distribute HIV drugs to everyone who needs them.

One in five South African adults is HIV-positive. To date, the government has refused to make the drugs available at all, arguing they are too expensive and too toxic. President Thabo Mbeki also has said he does not necessarily believe HIV is the cause of AIDS.

TAC said it will break the law via sit-ins, hunger strikes, and illegal importation and distribution of pharmaceuticals.

— World news by Rex Wockner


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