News24

Zim gay activist denies charges

2010-07-02 08:15

Harare - A Zimbabwean gay rights activist on Thursday pleaded not guilty to breaching censorship laws when he appeared before a magistrate's court accused of possessing pornography.

Ignatius Muhambi, an accountant for Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, and office administrator Ellen Chademana were arrested in a police raid at the association's offices in May.

Both are free on bail, and Muhambi formally entered a plea of "not guilty" in court on Thursday.

Prosecutor Memory Mugabe said police found pornographic material during the raid on the office.

"A search was done in the office and one pornographic DVD and pornographic booklet was recovered from the office being used by the accused," Mugabe told the court.

Mugabe said both contained graphic images of men having sex.

At the time of their arrest, the two also had been accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe, but that charge was not read out in court.

Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, although GALZ is allowed to operate.

President Mugabe, no relation to the prosecutor, has railed against the gay community for more than a decade, once calling gays "worse than pigs and dogs".

In March, he said efforts to include gay rights in a new constitution were "madness".

Neighbouring South Africa is the only nation on the continent that gives equal rights to gays.

Mhambi's trial resumes on Monday while Chademana's case will begin on Wednesday.