No, Zimbabwe court hasn’t threatened ‘newly married gay couple’ with death penalty if they don’t get pregnant

No, Zimbabwe court hasn’t threatened ‘newly married gay couple’ with death penalty if they don’t get pregnant

Researched by Mary Alexander

IN SHORT: No law in Zimbabwe imposes the death penalty for same-sex marriages or relationships. The claim that a court has ordered a newly married gay couple to be put under house arrest and face the death penalty if they don’t get pregnant is false.

“A High court in Zimbabwe has ordered a newly married gay couple to be put under house arrest for 12 months,” reads a message circulating on social media since May 2024.

It adds that “if by the end of the period none of them will be pregnant, the court further ordered a death penalty”.

The message includes a photo of two men in suits cuddling on a couch. It’s been posted in Kenya, Kuwait, Nigeria, South Africa and the USA.

Comments on the claim include:

But the claim is false, and not just because Zimbabwe’s restrictive laws against LGBTQ+ people would make it impossible for a court to make such a ruling. Let’s discuss.

 

Gay marriage and sex between men illegal – and death penalty on its way out

First, same-sex marriage is not only not recognised in Zimbabwe – it’s illegal.

Section 78 of the country’s 2013 constitution, which deals with marriage rights, reads in part: “Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other.”

Second, consensual sex between men (but not women) is also illegal. The 2004 Criminal Law Act lumps all sex between men under the label of “sodomy”, under a part of the law titled “Sexual Crimes and Crimes Against Morality”.

Section 73 of the act reads:

Any male person who, with the consent of another male person, knowingly performs with that other person anal sexual intercourse, or any act involving physical contact other than anal sexual intercourse that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act, shall be guilty of sodomy and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both.

Level 14 fines are the highest fines that courts can impose.

But no law in Zimbabwe imposes the death penalty for same-sex marriage or relationships.

Although capital punishment remains on the country’s statute books, no one has been executed since 2005. The 2013 constitution protects the right to life. For these and other reasons, Zimbabwe is considered a de facto death penalty abolitionist state.

In February 2024, the country’s cabinet approved the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. If passed, the bill would prohibit any court from imposing a death sentence, and would prevent any previously imposed death sentence from being carried out.

Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in Zimbabwe often makes headlines. But there have been no credible news reports of a court issuing this order.

The claim is false.

This report was written by Africa Check., a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website.

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