A police raid took place on the headquarters of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) association in Harare over the weekend, in which police arrested 44 gay rights activists.

The raid, which took place on Saturday, came as activists were preparing to launch a report on the abuse suffered by LGBT people in Zimbabwe.

Homosexuality is illegal in the country and the President Robert Mugabe has referred to LGBT people as being “worse than dogs and pigs.”

In a statement, GALZ said: “Police, some of them visibly drunk, assaulted most of the members using baton sticks.

“GALZ does not condone violence and we are not a threat. Those who cause violence are a threat to public safety and security and we ask that they stay away from our premises.”

The statement also mentioned that some of the activists were punched and kicked by the police.

The 44 members of GALZ – 31 men and 13 women – who were arrested were taken to Harare central police station where they were held before being released without charge on Sunday.

However, police spokesman James Sabau denied that anyone in the group had been arrested and said that they had only been taken to the police station for “screening.”

This incident comes just a month after it was reported that GALZ was to be charged under Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, the law which makes it illegal to insult President Mugabe or undermine his office.

In 2010, it is claimed GALZ displayed in its office a letter by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown, Jr which criticised Mugabe and may have breached the law.

Lately, Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has recently rejected calls for the new constitution – which is currently under debate – to guarantee LGBT rights.