22/11/2017 12:32 SAST | Updated 22/11/2017 12:33 SAST

Zimbabwe's LGBTIQ Group Celebrates Homophobe Mugabe's Demise

'We are ecstatic that the face of brutality, hate and impunity has resigned.'

Reuters Photographer / Reuters

LGBTIQ activists are celebrating the end of Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule in Zimbabwe, where homosexuality and other queer identities are still illegal under the repressive "sexual deviancy" law of 1995.

Mugabe, the country's authoritarian president for 37 years, agreed to step down on Tuesday -- a week after Zimbabwe's military seized power by taking control of the state television network, surrounding government buildings and detaining Mugabe at his home.

Zimbabwe's major LGBTIQ organisation, Galz, issued a statement shortly after the despot's resignation, saying: "We are ecstatic that the face of brutality, hate and impunity has resigned."

"Former President Robert Mugabe, repeatedly fuelled public prejudice against LGBTIQ individuals through public statements that endorsed abuse of LGBTIQ people in Zimbabwe. LGBTIQ people were subjected to abuse and harassment on account of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression," the statement continued.

Mugabe has frequently been outspoken about his homophobic views, using the LGBTIQ community as a scapegoat to divert attention from the results of his failed economic policy.

"I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organisations, like those of homosexuals, who offend both against the law of nature and the cultural norms espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and elsewhere in the world," he said at the Harare International Book Fair in 1995.

He added: ""It degrades human dignity. It's unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs." just two weeks later.

In the wake of Mugabe's resignation, Galz has called on the country's next leaders to assist the Zimbabwean LGBTIQ community in their efforts toward equality.

"Galz hopes that the incoming government will commit to upholding Zimbabwe's constitutional obligations to protect the rights of all people, including LGBTIQ people."