Gay rights campaigners in Zimbabwe believe they have a 50-50 chance of having gay, lesbian and bisexual people protected under the country’s new constitution.

The constitution is currently being drafted and there is hope that if gay rights are included, it will overturn laws criminalising sex between men. Sex between women is not mentioned in law.

Keith Goddard, director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, told the Guardian there was “probably got a 50:50 chance” of getting gay rights into the constitution.

He said that the best chance of success was to argue pm the grounds of health and HIV prevention.

“The National Aids Council has moved forward enormously from its original policy, and in its strategic plan for 2006-10 it specifically calls for the decriminalisation of homosexuality because punitive measures have simply driven the community underground and make this hidden population difficult to reach.

“So I think we can use it on the grounds of health and HIV/Aids interventions to try and argue the issue. Arguing it on religious or moral grounds is not going to get it anywhere. We live in hope.”

Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has previously described gay people as worse than “dogs and pigs”, claiming homosexuality is “un-African” and a “white man’s disease.”

He has warned against the dangers of homosexuality and threatened pro-gay clergy with prison sentences.