A Zimbabwean MP who was arrested last week after saying President Robert Mugabe had sex with other male politicians has been released on bail of $200 today, the state newspaper says.
Lynette Karenyi, of the Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested after reportedly saying: “Zanu PF members have been attacking MDC president Tsvangirai alleging he is pro-homosexuals yet Robert Mugabe has practised homosexuality with Jonathan Moyo and Canaan Banana.”
The government-owned Herald newspaper reported that the statement was made at an MDC rally on 9 December at Nhedziwa football grounds in Chimanimani.
Jonathan Moyo, whom Karenyi reportedly named, is a former Information Minister for the African state, and Canaan Banana was the country’s first president in the 1980s.
Banana, who died in 2003, was convicted by a Zimbabwean court of eleven sodomy charges following allegations he had used his presidential powers to coerce men into sexual relations.
After the 1997 ruling, Banana served six months of a ten year suspended sentence in an open prison.
The debate on homosexuality has been reignited in Zimbabwe after the UK government’s announcement that it will redirect aid away from central governments which do not recognise gay rights, and the country’s rewriting of its constitution.
The Movement for Democratic Change, led by the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, currently shares power with Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
Speaking to BBC News in October, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said gay rights were a “human right” that should be respected by Zimbabweans.
“It’s a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody.”
Neither Karenyi and nor MDC has commented but the newspaper said she was “denying the allegations being levelled against her.” Karenyi was released from custody today after paying the $200 bail.