Gays and Lesbians Association members told editors gathered at a workshop in Kadoma recently that the media was worsening their problems in society by writing negatively about them.
They asked the editors to protect them in accordance with rights given every citizen in the Constitution.
They told the one day workshop that the worst problems for their members always come after their se_xual orientation is exposed in the newspapers.
Thirty two editors attended the workshop organized by GALZ and Editors’ Forum director and former editor Njabulo Ncube coordinated it. Several members of the association gave testimonies on how bad publicity resulted in them being tormented by society.
Some of the problems faced by the members included being fired from work, losing their marriages or families after their se_xual orientations were exposed in the newspapers.
They accused national newspapers particularly tabloids owned by the State of perpetrating the worst attacks against them.
The GALZ members who testified requested anonymity for fear of being victimised.
GALZ consultant Isabella Matambanadzo urged the media not to concentrate on negative stories against the lesbians and gays but to pen positive stories when they are there.
“The law dictates that all people should be treated equally.
“Yes we know and understand that all media houses have a mission to boost their sales but you should also consider that gays and lesbians are also humane and the stories that you write about individuals wreck families, result in job losses and in them being shunned in their communities.
“Gays and lesbians sometimes get arrested because of media stories but they have rights like anyone else enshrined in Section 51 of the Constitution,” said Matambanadzo.
A member who gave his testimony said he lost his family, his job and friends after a story was published about his se_xual orientation. He said the media has a pivotal role to play to protect men and women like him. He said his se_xual orientation was not by choice but biological.
“Society has criminalised lesbians and gays and we call upon the media and the State to protect us. Some editors demand bribes in order for them to stop negative stories about us being published and this is quite common in some tabloids in the State media. Why harass us, why discriminate against us?” asked another member.
Silvester Nyamatendedza who is the service and policy advocacy officer for GALZ said the new dispensation has been more tolerant to gays and lesbians.
“We are happy with the new dispensation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa because now we can share our experiences with other people. During the Mugabe era we were sent to prison for such. It is refreshing that we can now openly hold such workshops,” said Nyamatendedza.
He added that everyone above the age of 18 has a right to marry whoever he or she so likes.
“The Marriage law says every person who attains 18 years has got a right to marry anyone of his choice so we have to exercise that right,” added Nyamatendedza.