Robert Mugabe Says Homosexuality Is “Filthy” and “Destroys Nations”

The World
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Aug. 22 2013 12:45 PM

Mugabe: Homosexuality “Destroys Nations”

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe looks on during his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony on August 22, 2013 at the 60,000-seater sports stadium in Harare.

Photo by ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was inaugurated for a seventh term today, and if you thought the 89-year-old leader would take the opportunity to reach out to the country’s opposition after another contentious election or present constructive ideas for the country’s ailing economy—a few months ago, the country’s public account stood at just $217—you don’t know Bob. Instead he took the time to address what he apparently sees as a far more pressing threat: homosexuals. South Africa’s Eyewitness News reports:

In the speech, Mugabe urged young people to “damn” homosexuality in the same way his government does and not to offend nature by engaging in same-sex relationships.

“That destroys nations, apart from it being a filthy, filthy disease,” he said.

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Mugabe, never exactly gay-friendly, ramped up the rhetoric during the recent campaign, calling gays “worse than pigs, goats, and birds,”  and criticizing President Obama’s support for gay rights, asking if he was “born out of homosexuality.”

According to a partial transcript from Zimbabwe’s Standard newspaper, Mugabe also congratulated the nation on “free and fair” elections and accused foreign nations of trying to discredit the country’s political system. “Today it is Britain, Australia, Canada, and America that want to tell us our elections were not fair and credible,” he said. “Who are they?” we ask. Who gave them the ability to see better than us?” (The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has also alleged widespread rigging.)

Around 30 current and former heads of state were in attendance. Interestingly, South African President Jacob Zuma decided to stay home

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.