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Zimbabwe blocks scholarship for LGBTQ+ young people

The Zimbabwean government are facing backlash on a global scale, after the vice president announced that the government will block university scholarships for young LGBTQ+ people. Human Rights activists have condemned this decision as a act of the country's homophobic principles.

An organisation called GALZ, which is a voluntary membership based organisation established in 1990 to serve the needs of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex [LGBTI] community in Zimbabwe, sponsors scholarships for LGBTQI 18-35 year olds in Zimbabwe. At first, the organisation began offering sponsorships in 2018, and it wasn't a problem. However, a recent online advert inviting applications sparked a harsh response from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, - who is a self-proclaimed devout Catholic and former army commander.

On Thursday 15th February, he released a statement - Chiwenga claimed the scholarship was “a direct challenge” to the government’s authority, calling them "abominable and devlish offers".

“Our schools and institutions of higher learning will not entertain applicants, let alone enrol persons associated with such alien, anti-life, un-African and un-Christian values which are being promoted and cultivated by, as well as practiced in decadent societies with whom we share no moral or cultural affinities,”

GALZ claimed that the scholarship seeks to provide equal opportunity and access to state universities for the ostracised LGBTQ+ people who often may struggle to pay for higher education due to being abandoned by family. Other human rights groups that belong to the same coalition as GLAZ, began to come out and say that the vice president's statement demonstrated that sexual and gender minorities are endangered in Zimbabwe.

“We are extremely concerned about the statement from the second-highest office in the land because it exhibits intolerance, especially taking into account that the advertisement opens young people to so many opportunities,”

said Wilbert Mandinde - Programs Coordinator at Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

Like many African countries, Zimbabwe criminalises homosexuality and any LGBTQ activity. Particularly, sex between men carries a potential prison sentence of up to a year. The country’s constitution bans same-sex marriages.

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