The results of last month’s Presidential election in Zimbabwe have finally been published. The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, won 47.9%.
Robert Mugabe of the Zanu/PF party won 43.2%, meaning there will need to be a second round of voting to determine the winner.
The results have been delayed for a month, leading the UK and other counties to express concern that Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1981, was attempting to steal the election.
The opposition MDC are likely to reject the results and argue that as their leader won the most votes, he is the rightful President.
That gives hope to those desperate for an end to the 28-year rule of one of the world’s most homophobic heads of state.
Robert Mugabe, now 84, has terrorised many groups in his country, not least gays and lesbians.
As his country crumbled around him, gay people became an even more victimised group, and he claimed homosexuality was “un-African” and a “white man’s disease.”
He told a cheering crowd of supporters in 2006 that gay marriages are a threat to civilisation and condemned churches that chose to bless same-sex relationships.
That same year, as inflation rocketed and the standard of living of a nation once one of the richest in Africa fell to poverty levels, the government made it illegal for two people of the same sex to hug, hold hands or kiss.
Campaigner Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage! attempted to perform a citizens arrest on Mr Mugabe in Brussels in 2001.
In 2004, Mr Tatchell requested at Bow Streets Magistrates Court for an arrest warrant for the Zimbabwean president over allegations of brutality, homophobia, and repression of civil rights.
Mr Tatchell documented accounts of political opponents being rounded up and imprisoned.
However, the magistrate, Timothy Workman, ruled that Mr Mugabe was entitled to immunity as a head of state.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2001 over allegations of fraud in the Presidential elections.
Mr Tatchell was beaten unconscious by bodyguards employed by the Zimbabwean leader.
Mugabe has targeted his country’s small gay population in recent years.
MDC, while not advocates for gay rights, could hardly be worse than the current President.
For two people of the same sex to hold hands is against the law.
He has previously described gay people as worse than “dogs and pigs”, has warned against the dangers of homosexuality and threatened pro-gay clergy with prison sentences.