30 October 2014

After Anti-Gay Constitution, Zimbabwe's HDI Increased

If international reports and assessments are to be believed, the levels in human development are actually rising, according to the latest Human Development Index (HDI). These results were included in the 2014 Human Development Report entitled, “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience.”

Published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report added that the lower human development groups appear to be improving at a higher rate – grounds for optimism that the gap between higher and lower human development groups is narrowing.

One very good example is Zimbabwe. The country has experienced the biggest improvement in HDI due to a significant increase in life expectancy – 1.8 years from 2012 to 2013, almost quadruple the average global increase. The country jumped four places from 152 in 2012 to 156 in 2013, the highest increase among countries covered by the HDI ranking.

It is also worth noting that the jumped in Zimbabwe’s human development indicators came after it enacted a constitution that will keep a same-sex marriage ban, effectively making it a criminal offence.

In 2013, the African country overwhelmingly approved the new constitution through a referendum and made a clear statement they still do not condone homosexuality by retaining the gay marriage ban. Even the new constitution guarantees rights such as equality and non-discrimination, it is also silent on specific rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Section 4.78 of the draft constitution reads: "Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other."

Zanu PF chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said: "This is the first time we have this clause in our constitution. The constitution cannot provide more information as there will be other legal instruments to enforce it, such as the Sexual Offences Act. It’s clear sexual relationships between people of the same sex are prohibited."

MDC-T Copac co-chair Douglas Mwonzora said while the constitution cannot prescribe a crime, the issue of homosexuality can be covered under the criminal law of sodomy.

"Same-sex marriages are prohibited and homosexuality is a crime under the country’s criminal laws," Mwonzora explained.