The gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has noted without surprise that the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has attended the beatification of John Paul II which was held in the Vatican on 1 May.
An EU travel ban forbids Mugabe from visiting member states, but the Vatican is a sovereign state and not in the EU. The ban was imposed in 2002 on account of Mugabe’s gross human rights abuses but Italy, a founder EU member, granted Mugabe an exemption to transit through the country. A Vatican spokesman said Mugabe had not been personally invited but as the head of a state with which the Vatican has relations he was entitled to attend.
Commenting on behalf of the PTT, its secretary George Broadhead said: Mugabe’s attendance at the ceremony comes as no great surprise. As a fellow Roman Catholic, he shares at least one trait in common with both the late beatified pope and the present one – an entrenched homophobia. He is viciously hostile to homosexuality, declaring on one occasion: ‘I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organizations, like those of homosexuals, who offend both against the law of nature and the morals of religious beliefs espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst and elsewhere in the world’, and on another occasion: ‘It [homosexuality] degrades human dignity. It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings? We have our own culture, and we must re-dedicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings. … What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behaviour and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police.’ Only last month at the funeral of his deputy intelligence chief, Mugabe described Britain’s tolerance of gay rights ‘unnatural’ and ‘filth’.
“Though rather more restrained in his choice of words, the present pope has shown himself to be equally homophobic, so Mugabe will have found himself in good company. It seems that the Vatican has chosen to ignore Mugabe’s gross human rights abuses, just as it ignored those of the Roman Catholic fascist dictators Adolf Hitler (with whom Mugabe has compared himself), Francisco Franco and Augusto Pinochet. By granting an exemption to the travel ban it seems that Italy has also chosen to ignore the human rights abuses.”